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Author Topic: Do you sell your prints?  (Read 7653 times)
cottagehunter
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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2012, 09:59:19 PM »
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Thanks Michael for the link. I am located in Ontario Canada located 60 miles east of Toronto . There is an Waterfront Festival here for the July 1st weekend and it is hosted by both the Lions ( about 5 large tents with exhibits mainly by painters) and Rotary (4 Crafts tent and a beer tent) I wanted to start at smaller venues than those hosted in major centres such as Toronto or Montreal . In my past occupations (sales and marketing) I have worked many trade shows and several consumer shows both for a company and myself.

mstevensphoto:    Thanks for the advice I think it is valuable as many people try to lowball pricing thinking they can raise their prices when (if) they get established doesn't usually work as you can always lower your price with existing clients but in these economic times it is difficult to raise your prices. I want to try this out as a money making venture not as a charity I have had enough experience with shows to know that your costs can quickly escalate making it hard to break even if you price your product low, it needs to be fair pricing for both the artist and the consumer.  ( my thoughts anyway)
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bill t.
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« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2012, 01:40:08 AM »
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But be careful.  A lot of photographers with weighty price tags need to hold jobs at Home Depot to compensate for the inevitable side effects of their sticker pride.  

On a piece of graph paper plot income-from-photo-sales against jobs.  There is a golden intersection somewhere where jobs go to zero while income is still some positive, non-zero value.  By this theory your best price point is the highest possible price that still makes enough sales such that jobs stay away.  It's in the economics textbooks.  Overpricing = Jobs, plain and simple.  PS, it's best if you don't think of photography as a job, trust me on this.  Photography is just something you do because it's so cool.

PS, anybody who wonders what their art is worth can arrive at a realistic value in one easy step, as follows...

Take a couple pieces to a gallery that has been in business at least 10 years.  Tell the owner you want to make a living selling art, and ask his opinion about a reasonable selling price commensurate with that goal.  He'll tell you, because most of his prima donna so-called artists won't listen to him on that point.

He may also tell you things about your art and its presentation.  It won't always be a happy experience, but it will always be useful.  What most rookies will learn is that they are spending way too much time and money on production.  The next thing they will learn is that photographers don't have a clue about what kind of work is sellable, in the gallery owner's opinion.  But that's another story.
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mstevensphoto
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« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2012, 11:35:36 AM »
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 PS, it's best if you don't think of photography as a job, trust me on this.  Photography is just something you do because it's so cool.

This is probably the only thing I'll disagree with you on. Photography is a job, it's my only job and sole source of income. The #1 reason I see people unable to make it happen for themselves is that they don't treat it like a job. Best advice for anyone who wants to become a professional photographer: Tell art school thanks but no thanks and get a business degree.

Even if it's part time treat it like a job and you may be surprised how quickly you can feel comfortable and even profitable even in a down economy. Show me a photographer who can accurately and honestly tell you his cost of doing business off the top of his head and I'll show you a photographer making money.
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Ian99
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« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2012, 05:20:01 PM »
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I hate to be pessimistic but the economy forces me to be that way. I also think that there is a huge difference between the US market and the Canadian one, so it would be useful if the people posting to this thread stated on which side of the border they reside.

I have shown my stuff regularly in the arts and crafts shows around Toronto and the results have been pathetic. It could be that my stuff is crap but I don’t see anybody else selling much either. It is my impression that the US has more disposable income, lower costs, and a more vibrant artsy economy as a result.

In Canada photographic prints are not perceived to have any value. Anybody can take a picture! That is a big statement but the result of years of criticism. There are a few people who attend every show and have made a living at it. Piluke is one, and he says that the business is dying quickly.

I stopped trying to sell photographs and now convert them into something like oil paintings. I religiously follow Dan Berg’s advice and print on canvas, roll with Timeless, and glue to a stiff board – usually gatorboard. I will then wrap the edges or put it into a simple and cheap frame. The market still thinks it too costly.

For advice to Cottagehunter – I know the Cobourg Festival, it is a great place to visit, especially by boat, and ogle the thousands of girls on the beach. I know many of the people displaying their work and the general comment is that sales have declined dramatically over the last 3 years as the economy has slowed. Of the eight I spoke to last Summer, only one covered their costs of entry, never mind the cost of hotel/camping for 3 or 4 nights.

A similar thing can be said for the most important show in Canada – the One of a Kind in Toronto each Fall. The entry fees are high, and you have to think about manning a booth for 11 days. Over the past 10 years arts stuff has declined dramatically and has been replaced by large amounts of food items and hats and glove makers!! People still like going to the show, so the promoters still make money, but I would guess that there are very few visitors who are willing to shell out more than $100 on anything.

One thing beginners miss is the sheer effort involved in displaying your work all day for many days at a time. On your feet, trying to be nice to buffoons, and suffering sunburn or lashing rain. Yes, I know Cobourg has nice big tents, but it is still a major effort and you need at least 2 people to man a booth for that show effectively.

I suggest you need to spend a year or two going round all the shows in your area and sussing out what could work for you and what does not. As Mstevensphoto says – this is a business – and you need to do your market research to see whether your product can sell in that market.

For what it is worth, many successful people sell nothing at art shows but use it to encourage people to visit their studios. The only vibrant shows (vibrant being making money) are said to be in the Muskokas and at Collingwood.
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bill t.
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« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2012, 02:05:49 PM »
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Hey Ian!  Brighten up, eh!  We're broke down here, too.  But even being North of the Border hasn't stopped this guy, here's proof it can be done...

Andrew Collett
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #25 on: April 10, 2012, 02:43:37 PM »
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... here's proof it can be done...

Also known as "survivorship bias". Not unlike judging your chances as a writer by pointing out  J. K. Rowling example.

If it would be a country, it would be known as Extremistan (Black Swan theory), i.e., place where very, very few make a lot, and many, many more serve to justify the phrase "starving artist".
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Slobodan

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« Reply #26 on: April 10, 2012, 03:52:04 PM »
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Just curious what makes you say that this gentleman is successful.  I see he has a nice website and what looks like a nice gallery, but what makes you think he is doing well?  I did watch the little snippet from the video journal that he has made available, and he does say that he just wants to pay his bills, but do we know how much income he is generating?  I notice that he also offers workshops, and I can't help but think that this makes a big contribution to his bottom line.  So what exactly might his print/framed sales be like?
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Ian99
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« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2012, 04:44:41 PM »
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OK Bill, I hear you, but being broke is relative. Up to 1992 we were a buoyant economy, then our brilliant politicians signed a Free Trade Agreement with the US and almost immediately 50% of our manufacturing slid South. Then your brilliant politicians allowed 50% of yours to slip West to China!

Anyway Cottagehunter is looking for advice and I gave him detail that US posters could not provide. OK it was a bit negative but that is the reality of the current market. My main point to him was that he needs to do his own research to see what sells and what does not sell in his desired area. If you are really good then move to LA or New York and try to make your name there. Cobourg doesn’t cut it.

Regarding Andrew Collett, who I have never met, there are many who are successful and legions who are not. His workshops probably are a significant source of income and advertising. Also please note that his gallery and studio is in Port Carling – which is in the Muskokas, that I mentioned in the earlier email.

Just like in any business, it is easy to make a widget, but the hard part is selling it. If Cottagehunter proceeds with his plan, I think I have helped him understand the selling part and saved him at least a year of frustration – and I probably couldn’t stand the competition anyway!!
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bill t.
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« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2012, 09:30:58 PM »
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Also known as "survivorship bias". Not unlike judging your chances as a writer by pointing out  J. K. Rowling example.nd many, many more serve to justify the phrase "starving artist".

OK, wallow in Gloom.  See if I care.  Cry

It's a good thing Rowling didn't shine the blinding light of business acumen on her unsupportable decision to write a novel while there were mouths to feed and bills to pay.  Taking in laundry or going to law school would have seemed much more prudent.

*******************************

But on a brighter note, I know from a competitor of his and a shared supplier that Andrew is doing at least OK which is all one can hope for in these times.  Also, based on 40 years of doing short term projects with highly creative individuals, I sense immediately that Andrew is the type of guy who simply walks over obstacles and will get the job done one way or another with no need of existential excuses.

Also, he's got EXACTLY the right product and EXACTLY the right customer base for present circumstances.  It is so liberating not to get hung up on artistic pretense, just sell the damned decor pieces and put the money in the damned bank.  Also he is priced realistically for the market, oh dear!  And forgiveness and understanding are not required for those who do workshops, it's perfectly OK.

There are always some shards of a market left even in the worst of times.  All you need to do is find them, but of course they won't be in the old familiar places.  And since almost everybody else has stopped looking, all the better.  Some assembly required.

All it takes is a dash of brilliance and barrel of doing the work.  And don't hesitate to toss what isn't working however much you love it.  Somewhere, somehow, somebody wants to buy your art even if they don't know it yet.  Which is what they tell you in business school, isn't it?

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Mike Sellers
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« Reply #29 on: April 11, 2012, 08:17:50 AM »
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I am printing up a few 30x45 gallery wrap canvas prints to show a gallery. When asked what would be a realistic price? It would be interesting to find out what "realistic" means to everyone.
Mike
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #30 on: April 11, 2012, 10:29:54 AM »
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I visited Gale Rowell's gallery in Bishop, CA last spring and was amazed at how low the prices were. "It's definitely not a good time to be marketing wall art", said the staff member I spoke to.
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mstevensphoto
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« Reply #31 on: April 11, 2012, 10:57:55 AM »
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Also, he's got EXACTLY the right product and EXACTLY the right customer base for present circumstances. 


exactly. some of the best advice I've gotten: you are not your customer. Find your right customer and sell them your art (I wouldn't touch an art AND craft show, I'm not selling my art alongside $4 bars of handmade soap).

The down economy is NOT an excuse. You are not a victim. Do some reading and you'll see that the sale of luxury goods is up in this down economy.  I currently sell more expensive pieces to fewer customers in this down economy and they're glad to pay because it's been made into an emotional decision for them. it has taken me 3 years to feel like I'm in with the right crowd but I currently have a pair of doctors in a pissing match to see who can have the more grand piece from me. This group demands white glove service, but they're an absolute pleasure to work for.

do a little market research on actual customers not photographers. The only people cheaper than photographers are real estate agents. ask yourself questions like:
Where does my ideal client shop?
What kind of lifestyle does my ideal client lead?
What does my ideal client really value in life?
How old are they?
What are products I aspire to be in the same category as that my ideal client can't live without?


put that together into some sort of statement like: My ideal client is a younger professional with a family who is willing to save their money for things they value whether they are wealthy or not. My ideal client makes purchasing decisions based on brand loyalty, service and product quality. Their dog is their family not their pet. they value service and likely have someone who cleans their house, even if on a monthly basis. They drive a volkswagen, audi or infinity because they care about quality and style and want to distinguish themselves from the "inexpensive" AND "old/boring money." They own a modern loft or standalone home and regularly purchase art for that home.

once you have that statement ask yourself - where do I find my ideal person? me, I find them at wine tastings and social events not craft shows. I find them at charity dinners that cost $90/plate and up. I find them at really good restaurants, and I don't mean expensive, I mean the little chef owner joints that I love that are on the front edge for foodies - we're only talking $30-50 a person for a meal, but the people who appreciate that food appreciate my service.

good luck, and don't be a victim of the economy, it's too easy an out.
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bill t.
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« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2012, 12:30:57 PM »
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I am printing up a few 30x45 gallery wrap canvas prints to show a gallery. When asked what would be a realistic price? It would be interesting to find out what "realistic" means to everyone.

My sense is that for an unknown artist most galleries would suggest about $350 to $500.  That's a price range where they can sell really good looking work at a rate that makes it worth the wall space.  Sorry, but that's a fact for most North American markets.  There could be exceptions of course, but those would entail lots of publicity and hyping.  If you're good enough at that stuff to bring unusual numbers of people through the door you can ask for more, maybe.
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Michael H. Cothran
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« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2012, 06:38:15 PM »
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Having exhibited at juried arts & crafts shows for over 20 years, I've seen sales up and down. Some great, some pretty bad, but overall decent. I don't think the "economy" here in the US is that detrimental to sales. Most shows still have great turn-outs of patrons. People are there, most with wallets. If you've got images that grab people, at reasonable prices, you will do well. Problem is there are a gazillion people with cameras now. Competition is much higher for better shows than it use to be, especially with the advent of Zapplication. At a better show, you might have 50+ photographers applying for 10-15 spots. Photography has been the Number 2 medium at shows, shadowed only by jewelry. And to compound issues, what jurors usually want to see in jury images is not what the public wants to buy. This has long been a conundrum. In a nutshell, jurors want "artsy," cutting-edge images. The public often wants something that looks good over the proverbial couch. One thing for sure though, you cannot predict what the patrons at a show will like or dislike. All you can do is produce the best images possible, run them up the flagpole, and see who salutes.
Most photographers come with a variety of sizes and prices. Loose prints and ready-to-hang pieces.

A major problem that newcomers often overlook is the initial expense of doing a show. You need your own 10'x10' tent. $800+ for most. Display walls - The industry standard today are Pro Panels. A set of these can run $1000-$3000. Add browsing bins, office supplies, and lots of stock. Then there's the cost of the show. Most decent shows have a non-refundable application fee of $20-$35. Then there's the booth fees, which can run the gamut from $100 upwards to $2000+. My cheapest show is $150, and my most expensive one is $750. This gets you 100 sq ft of real estate (10'x10'). And unless it's a local show, add in travel expenses for gas and motel.
Oh!...and one other thing - you need a vehicle big enough to transport your tent, display, and stock.
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Michael H. Cothran
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« Reply #34 on: April 11, 2012, 06:48:41 PM »
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For anyone interested, here are some links to a couple of popular brands of tents, plus the Pro Panels site -

http://www.lightdomecanopies.com/

http://www.flourish.com/

http://www.propanels.com/

And here is the link, once again, to the Art Show Photographers site - invaluable to any photographer currently doing juried shows, or those who want to be.

http://artshowforums.com/forum/
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Ian99
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« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2012, 07:34:12 PM »
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Michael, I thank you for your posts. This is the sort of information a beginner needs and it could have saved me years of frustration. My intent here is to add the Canadian content that the OP needs.

I agree with you regarding juried shows. They are a significant problem and all the better shows are juried. Many shows here just will not allow photography as it is not considered to be art! One of my pet peeves is a show close to me that refuses any photography but goes gaga over crocheted tea cozies. The answer generally to those that do allow photography is to submit avant-garde stuff for the jurors but display marketable stuff at the event. You can always say that the artsy stuff was sold before the show.

Regarding equipment, I have a Flourish frame and coming from Arkansas it looks like it would withstand a tornado. It is expensive and heavy and I have only seen one other one up here. Almost everybody uses variations on the E-Z Up or the Costco Impact shelter, which is surprisingly good and cheap.

I have never seen a Propanel in use, everyone uses wire grids which are heavy and awkward but are cheap. I bought mine second hand from Acme Store Fixtures in Toronto, which seems to do a roaring business reselling grids from disillusioned artists.

However, the Cobourg Festival that the OP was interested in has been going so long that the organizers erect the booths for you out of recycled plywood. Your job is to cover the plywood with your own backdrops and to drive nails into the wood to hang your work. It looks better than it sounds.

Costs are another major factor. Cobourg costs around $350, but the big One-Of-A-Kind show costs around $4000 for a 10x10 and if you want lights then you must supply them, but you have to pay a fixed fee for a union electrician to show up and plug them in for you!  You are not allowed to plug in your own lights.

I am sure that we could spend a lot of beer time retelling our horror stories of shows in the howling rain with one Johnny-on-the-Spot, or insane insurance requirements, or the insistence of a fire safety certificate for your booth. But it is not my intent to dissuade Cottagehunter from going ahead. I am merely trying to be the old fart training the youngster into what to expect. I would love to hear his experiences at the end of the Summer.
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cottagehunter
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« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2012, 10:01:10 PM »
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All the posts submited have been very helpful. At present I intend to only test the waters with local shows (within 150 miles of home) . Some of the shows are past booking dates so probably should have started earlier. I will keep you informned of my tribulations as I proceed. I am looking to make a profit to enable me to justify my purchasing of a 7900, inks and papers and now must add in frames. Would have liked to have partaken a couple more shows this year but I am finding them difficult to locate. I know there is the Buckhorn show but that conflicts with other family arrangements. I don't think I could cover the costs of the one of a kind show and how would you offer multiple prints of the same shot at a one of a kind show, you could probably offer different sizes? As you can see I am a newbie at these types of shows and appreciate all the advice you give. The shows have changed since I participated in the cottage type shows for real estate and also the trade shows for industry, where at least the booth structure was supplied and you could customize it with your own booth or not. Also all the shows I have done (some lasting up to 9 days) were under cover so didn't need to think about tents and such. Don't want to spend a ton of money to find out that it is a money losing proposition but if it is profitable willing to expand. I am an old geezer and don't have 20-30 yrs to ply my trade.

Thanks again.
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photodave
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« Reply #37 on: April 14, 2012, 11:27:04 PM »
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Ok well I guess I chime on in.  For the past seven years I have made my full income from participating in art shows all over the country. I currently do roughly 25 to 30 shows a year, mostly in the Pacific Northwest.  These past seven years I have sold my photography on gallery wrapped canvas. Seven years ago the idea of printing on canvas was very new and not very many people had heard of such a thing and most individuals would swear to you that it wasn't a photograph but a oil painting.  Now fast forward seven years.  Everybody is doing canvas.  I just completed the first two art shows of the the year.  The show in Houston (Bayou Show) had 38 photographers participating in which more than half were selling canvas gallery wraps.  It gets worse, the show in Tempe, Arizona had 28 photographers with 22 of those photographers selling canvas gallery wraps. The message to this story is fads come and go and the canvas fad is no longer unique and different.  If you want to make in this business you must be willing re-invent yourself and strive to be unique. Just following the crowd of photographers selling canvas gallery wrap is not going to work.  If you are a art show patron and you go to a show with 300 booths and your looking at all these photographers selling gallery wrap canvas what is going to happen is the same felling you get when buying a house.  All the houses start to look the same after touring 10 different homes in one day.  Its no different for your customer coming to an art show.  I for one and searching for something different, something unique, something that will set me apart from the hordes of other photographers doing the same thing and the OP should be thinking like this also. 

David
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photodave
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« Reply #38 on: April 14, 2012, 11:35:10 PM »
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This is an excellent post, and anyone who sells their own photography should read this and try to put these ideas into practice.  I know I am especially since I live in the Washington Wine Country!!


David


exactly. some of the best advice I've gotten: you are not your customer. Find your right customer and sell them your art (I wouldn't touch an art AND craft show, I'm not selling my art alongside $4 bars of handmade soap).

The down economy is NOT an excuse. You are not a victim. Do some reading and you'll see that the sale of luxury goods is up in this down economy.  I currently sell more expensive pieces to fewer customers in this down economy and they're glad to pay because it's been made into an emotional decision for them. it has taken me 3 years to feel like I'm in with the right crowd but I currently have a pair of doctors in a pissing match to see who can have the more grand piece from me. This group demands white glove service, but they're an absolute pleasure to work for.

do a little market research on actual customers not photographers. The only people cheaper than photographers are real estate agents. ask yourself questions like:
Where does my ideal client shop?
What kind of lifestyle does my ideal client lead?
What does my ideal client really value in life?
How old are they?
What are products I aspire to be in the same category as that my ideal client can't live without?


put that together into some sort of statement like: My ideal client is a younger professional with a family who is willing to save their money for things they value whether they are wealthy or not. My ideal client makes purchasing decisions based on brand loyalty, service and product quality. Their dog is their family not their pet. they value service and likely have someone who cleans their house, even if on a monthly basis. They drive a volkswagen, audi or infinity because they care about quality and style and want to distinguish themselves from the "inexpensive" AND "old/boring money." They own a modern loft or standalone home and regularly purchase art for that home.

once you have that statement ask yourself - where do I find my ideal person? me, I find them at wine tastings and social events not craft shows. I find them at charity dinners that cost $90/plate and up. I find them at really good restaurants, and I don't mean expensive, I mean the little chef owner joints that I love that are on the front edge for foodies - we're only talking $30-50 a person for a meal, but the people who appreciate that food appreciate my service.

good luck, and don't be a victim of the economy, it's too easy an out.
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cottagehunter
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« Reply #39 on: April 19, 2012, 01:18:18 PM »
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Ok well I guess I chime on in.  For the past seven years I have made my full income from participating in art shows all over the country. I currently do roughly 25 to 30 shows a year, mostly in the Pacific Northwest.  These past seven years I have sold my photography on gallery wrapped canvas. Seven years ago the idea of printing on canvas was very new and not very many people had heard of such a thing and most individuals would swear to you that it wasn't a photograph but a oil painting.  Now fast forward seven years.  Everybody is doing canvas.  I just completed the first two art shows of the the year.  The show in Houston (Bayou Show) had 38 photographers participating in which more than half were selling canvas gallery wraps.  It gets worse, the show in Tempe, Arizona had 28 photographers with 22 of those photographers selling canvas gallery wraps. The message to this story is fads come and go and the canvas fad is no longer unique and different.  If you want to make in this business you must be willing re-invent yourself and strive to be unique. Just following the crowd of photographers selling canvas gallery wrap is not going to work.  If you are a art show patron and you go to a show with 300 booths and your looking at all these photographers selling gallery wrap canvas what is going to happen is the same felling you get when buying a house.  All the houses start to look the same after touring 10 different homes in one day.  Its no different for your customer coming to an art show.  I for one and searching for something different, something unique, something that will set me apart from the hordes of other photographers doing the same thing and the OP should be thinking like this also. 

David

Dave I have sent you a pm can you check and send me a reply

Thanks Pierre
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