It is important to sell to the customers face to face and let them meet the designer and maker. However it is equally important to choose wisely the shows you should do and what would suit your creative style. I chose the Christmas shows at the Midlands Art Centre (MAC) in Birmingham to begin with. I have previously visited these shows with my friends and have always enjoyed meeting other artists as a customer so it was expected that I should try to be on the other side of the table. Another factor that I decided to do this show is because it is local to me, it supports the local artists and has always been on the look out to helping new talent on the scene get a platform to sell on.
Leading up to the shows I was slightly nervous as this was my first ever show. I did not have anything to compare it to or I was not sure what to expect from my first day. I was also nervous about selling to the public face to face for the first time, so I made sure I was prepared.
From my previous visits I knew the footfall was great however it could be changed depending on various issues, such as the weather, other shows, parking etc. Therefore I had done my research beforehand and applied to do two Saturdays instead of one weekend only, just in case if anything changes one weekend I would have the opportunity to do better the next weekend.
It is important to understand that the industry is changing, it is developing you have to find your niche and stand out from the rest. At my previous shows at the MAC twice during Christmas, both times I had different display ideas. And both times I did not stand out from the crowd. If people looked closely they could see my jewellery but I did not get the passing by attention. Therefore, I could not use the same ideas again. I had to do something different and stand out.
Oh brain why do you come up with great crazy ideas last minute.
When it came to display ideas. I wanted to carve out into wood to make a holding for the rings to sit in. Little did I know that I have absolutely no time on top of nobody to carve the wood for me.
So I did what all good artists do; I asked Google, no I meant I did research. Whilst looking at display ideas I realised nothing would suit my jewellery. Later that day I hit my local art shop where I found some modelling materials for graphics students, they were selling modelling wood pieces at a very reasonable price. Light bulbs went crazy in my head and “Eureka” there was my display already to go. To keep my jewellery from disappearing into colours and weights of display material, using plain and simple materials was the best thing. If you are trying to come up with something different remember to always; Keep it simple.
Your display is as important as your product. I decided to keep mine simple to make sure my jewellery was not lost within my displays. And the feedback and reaction from customers was amazing. This time round my jewellery was getting the attention from the walking by public. They kindly even gave me feedback on my ideas whilst I chatted to the customers.
Another good idea is even if you are nervous to talk to people, just smile. A smile goes a long way into breaking the ice with every person you interact with. Even if they do not make a purchase on the day they will remember the interaction.
Is it a good idea to sell at this show?
Definitely. I believe MAC is the only place in Birmingham that gives new artists to take their product to market and meet customers face to face. Mac allowed me to meet my customers. It also gave me confidence in taking my brand outside of Birmingham. Mac is a great place for artists and I would definitely recommend attending as well as taking part in it.
With everything in life us creative’s are never 100% happy with the outcome. There are several things I would have done differently. However, this is a learning curve for me and like myself many new artists that have taken a risk to reveal their art to the world. I believe I also should have started online marketing earlier than I did. Because not many people knew resulting in me disappointing my audience by not allowing them enough time to make their trip to see me on the days.
And lastly do not worry if you did not make sales on your first day or if you thought it did not look busy enough. There are many factors that play into this. But this does not mean people will not turn up later in the day. Believe me when I say this that you will attract your own customer base. Although it is different for every artist, like any other show you do need to be persistent and patient in your craft. If they do not buy from you straightaway they will come back because customers will always remember you. That is a great feeling when people associate your work with your name and remember you.
I would definitely do another show at MAC because the more people see you the better they trust you. So my advice is be persistent in your craft and never look back, because “Rome was not built in one day” my friends.
Let me know if you found my journey useful. And stay in touch.