There are many retail shows based around the holiday season that artists can enter to sell their work. I have noticed some ideas lately for trying out different types of venues or making your own venue to sell during the holiday season. These ideas may take more work on your part but could provide good alternatives for more sales.
One idea is to gather a group of artists and rent a venue such as a grange hall or even a church basement to set up a small artist run show. Running a retail show takes a lot of preparation and you will need all of the artist participants to help run and promote the show. Start early on your planning and logistical details to avoid “rushing around with your head cut off” just before the show. Invite artists whose work is all compatible but those who are not selling the same products. Think about innovative ways to advertise without spending too much money. The cost for the show will be split up between the artists and those guidelines should be set up in advance so there are no surprises. Once you get this type of show up and running, it is much simpler to continue it at the same time each year.
Another way to sell your work is to have a “pop up gallery show”. This will work for an artist that has enough work to fill an entire gallery space. Since the slow down in the economy, there are numerous empty retail spaces available for lease or rent. Many have been on the market for a long time and landlords might be more likely to do a short-term rental for 4-6 weeks. This will take a lot of research to make sure that the location is appropriate. The old adage for retail “Location, location, location” is true. Look for an open spot in a shopping area that is busy with customers already. Talk to the neighboring store owners to find out about special events that are held around the holiday season. Take advantage of those type of events to promote your “pop up gallery”. Make sure to read the lease/rental agreement thoroughly and check that you are following all city regulations in regards to licensing, taxes and any specific business rules. You would also need to staff the gallery and depending on your intended selling hours, you might need to hire assistants.
If the “pop up gallery” idea seems a bit too scary, consider asking a restaurant about using their window or wall space to hang your work. These types of arrangements are usually done on a consignment basis and you should have a written agreement before hanging your work. You could also consider just putting a display of your work in an empty store window with your contact information so that customers could call you directly.
Other possibilities are joining with a group of artists to have a studio tour before the holidays, having a “private show” for invited customers only or doing a “trunk show” at a gallery or store. Again, advance planning is a must. I hope that some of these ideas will get you started thinking about alternative ways to sell your work. They don’t necessarily need to be around the holidays but taking advantage of the “buying season” will improve your overall sales.
I will be taking a short break from Marketplace Mondays until after the new year. I would love to hear if you have any specific questions about your art business so that I can address these issues in future posts. Please leave a comment with your requests and thanks for reading!