Tuesday, May 5, 2009

You'd be making more sales if only...

As a part of my "Yay Money" project and researching stores with no sales I thought it might be cool to write about some of the stores I'm getting to see but don't buy from (by the way, I ordered 3 things already and waiting for them to arrive so I can write about them). I feel a little strange criticizing other people's business choices without them even asking for it, and I'm sure different things works for different people and also that people use Etsy in different ways. However, I think this is a good way for me to review some of my own Etsy experiences and share what works and doesn't work for me.

Saying that, I've decided to start with a topic that's especially difficult to write and talk about but that a lot of people think of which is:

You'd be making more sales if only your prices were lower

For this review, I'm proud to present the work of Dick Haakman from HaakmanGallery. Dick is a super talented painter, I love his style and sensitivity, and his work is excellent. I especially love his still lives. The store is in existence since March, have 12 beautiful paintings in it and haven't had any sales.

The reasons for it to me is pretty clear, the cheapest item is a 1,000$. I don't know about other shop owners, but in my experience, any single piece that is priced at over 60$ is hard to sell. It's a bit hard to hear, I know, but really, I have not manage to sell a painting for more then that.

Isn't it strange that we go to art galleries and see paintings that sells for thousands and tens of thousands of dollars and yet, we go online and beautiful pieces doesn't sell for a 1,000$ or so?! this have a few reasons:

1. Artists makes only a fraction of the gallery sale price. I just had the luck of getting a piece ready to be in a gallery show, Ned got a photo in an art book and a show, we had to do the math to price it. printing was about 150$, though we were lucky to claim a favor and get the print for free. Frame was 300$, the gallery takes 50% of final sell price. Basically, we priced the piece at 1,200$ and after gallery fee and frame, made 300$ of it, if we had to pay for printing it would be even less (or we'll have to push the price up) If we had an agent or manager, or signed up with a gallery, we would be getting even less. It really sucks, but that's how it is, after expenses, materials, gallery fee and so on, the artist makes about 10-25% of the sale price in a gallery.

2. Galleries appeal to collector while Etsy, mostly, target people who wants something cool to put in their apartment. Why is this important?! because A collector is a lot more likely to spend a lot of money on a piece they think (and mostly because the gallery endorse the artist) the piece will be worth more in the future, most people don't have a 1,000$ to spend on a painting if it's entire purpose is decorate a room.

When the artist is more famous and successful. It's a strange and pretty unfair vicious cycle, but that's the gallery business - when a gallery show an artist in their space they are basically saying "We think this person is worth taking notice off" the more the artist does this, the more they get attention and the value of their pieces go up.

It's strange to think about it, but the same piece can be worth 10$ or a million dollar depends on the history of the artist's fame and exhibition history.

So - what can be done?
What can Dick Haakman do to make sure he does generate some sales?!

Even though I read his profile, I can't really know how much his art worth as far as investments goes, if a collector do goes on Etsy, it would be helpful to have his exhibition history and, if possible, contacts in those galleries and links to those galleries so they can check if this is a good investment, lets say his last show was super successful and every painting sold for 10,000$ - then suddenly paying a 1,000 for one of his pieces seem like a great idea.

If Dick is targeting collector, he would need to draw them to Etsy on his own, as far as I know, most of those buy things through galleries, because that the gallery endorsement of an artist means that they stand a better chance of making money of the investment and because each piece that sells in a gallery makes the artist more incline to succeed in getting exhibited more and selling for higher prices in the future, which means the collector again, stand a better chance at making money of their investment.
And so - if Dick already sold some pieces and he is in connection with the collector, this is a good time to send them e-mails referring them to his store, also, it might be a good idea to look for galleries that show the same style of art and send them e-mails or letters urging them to check his online gallery.

Lets say both those plans doesn't work, it means Dick will probably have to find a way to lower his prices, if he wants to make any sales.
I know it takes a long time to make a painting and he might not want to, and so there are a few ways to create a product that would not take as much time and so he can price them cheaper:

1. Make smaller pieces - this is what I do, when I started selling paintings on Etsy I priced them at 70-60$ - non of it sold, one day I took a piece of paper I was about to start drawing on and cut it to 4 - it took me about the same amount of time to make 4 small paintings as it took me to make 1 big one - the painted surface was about the same, I priced each at 20$ - overall, I made more money of the sale of 4 small painting, but each buyer paid less for an original painting.

Strangely enough, a lot of people who saw the smaller cheap paintings bought 3-4 of them, they paid the same amount that they would for 1 big one, but I think the feeling of getting a good deal - a few paintings, made it easier for people to spend 80$.
Like those - some of those paintings are slightly larger then a postcard, but are strong enough to change a room.

2. Make Digital prints - either get a great scan or a great photograph of the painting, and do either a limited edition or an open edition of the artwork. The benefit of this is that even if you sell them for cheap, you only have to do the work on one - if you make a closed edition of 100 prints, and sell each for 20$ (if they all sell, which will be awesome) the artist get to make the 2,000$ AND keep the original painting to sell later or for himself. Like Peppermint - those are awesome (and cheap!)

3. Art Prints - this means learning an new method of work and maybe change style, but either doing block printing, etching, silk screens, gocco or monotype, means you can produce a work of art that have multiple copies, which means you both retain the artistic mechanics of work and can sell each copy for relatively cheap. Like Marissa's beautiful shop - she has a very successful Block prints shop, that sells beautiful and very affordable prints.

Whatever Dick Haakman chooses to do, I hope he gets lucky and sell everything in his shop! do check it out, his art is gorgeous!


Snowberry and Lime said...

This is such a great post and review! I am looking forward to the other ones in this style. :)

Anonymous said...

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