Monthly Archives: October 2011

Why All Artists Should Take a Photography Class

One thing that I have become painfully aware of the last few months is that I am not a photographer. I have read tips and tutorials on how to photograph art, but my photos never seem to capture my work.  Take this piece, for example –

Bloodwood Pendant, copyright Christina Kester 2011

This is a bloodwood pendant with a tree design done in pyrography. I took about 10 pictures of it and most were completely unusable. In this picture (the best of the bunch), the background is washed out and the pendant is too saturated and lacks the rich complexities of the wood. I can fix some of these errors in Photoshop, as I did here –

Bloodwood Pendant, copyright Christina Kester 2011

I adjusted the levels of the photo and I played with the saturation of the pendant itself. It is a better picture, but it still falls far short of the actual piece. If I wanted to sell this piece online (using one of these photos), I would have to make a disclaimer that the photograph is not representative of the piece. Otherwise, I could end up with an unhappy customer, since the pendant is darker, richer, and has more depth and luster than in the photograph. For now, it is back to reading how-to’s and maybe even a basic photography book.

In short if you want to be a successful artist or crafter, it is a really good idea to learn photography. It will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road.

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Craft Fairs

I now have two small craft fairs under my belt. While that does not make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I did learn a few valuable things from my experience. Before my shows, I did some online research on what to bring with me and how to stage my display.  For my checklist, I used a list by Bazaar Bizarre and adapted it to my needs. It is important to keep in mind that the fairs I went to were small, local events. If you were going to a bigger festival, you would probably need more things.

  • Information and directions to the craft fair – For Applefest, I needed to find the person who ran the festival to see where to set up. For Colors of Fall, I was given a map and my spot was marked.
  • Inventory – I brought everything I have to both events. I highly recommend bringing more than you think you will need. It can be hard to gauge how much you will sell, particularly if it is your first show in that venue. At the smaller fairs I went to, I learned that I need to have more lower priced items and fewer higher priced items. I brought a portfolio of work I had sold to Colors of Fall. The people who were really interested in my work would take the time to look through it.
  • Inventory List/Price List – All of my items had prices clearly visible, however they were not affixed to the items. It was nice to have a list of prices so that I could make sure the tag was next to the right piece if someone had set it down in a different spot after picking it up to look at it. Having a complete inventory list will also help you keep track of what you have sold. I marked an item as sold immediately on my inventory list.
  • Change –  For the small fairs I went to, I had $100 in $5’s and $1’s. I kept it in a locked cash box. Some people like cash aprons or cash bags better because it is easier to take it with you if you have to leave your booth for any reason.
  • Display – This was something I put a lot of thought into. Your table (or tent) is the first thing your potential customers are going to see. Make sure that you cover your table with a cloth at the very least. I also added some seasonal elements (leaves and gourds). Don’t forget your sign. You want people to know who you are. Here are some pictures of my display. There are a few things I want to do differently next time, but it isn’t a bad start.
  • Helper – For me, this was important. I really wanted the moral support for my first show. And having someone around to mind your table/booth while you go to the restroom is a life saver. Here are some pics of my awesome helpers.

  • Business cards – Customers may want an easy way to find you again.  I went through a couple hundred at the very small fairs I went to, so bring a lot.
  • Receipt book – I didn’t actually use the one I brought, but I really want to use it next time especially with the larger purchases.
  • Cell phone – Always a good idea to have
  • Packing materials and bags –  I used the paper that my unfinished bowls were shipped in to wrap purchases. For bags, I used ones I kept from the grocery store.
  • Snacks and water – To help keep your energy up
  • Miscellaneous supplies –  Pens, paper, tape, sewing kit etc.
  • Business license and tax permits – It is the law. Make sure you are conforming to it.
  • Camera – It is a good idea to take a picture of your display for future reference and for marketing
  • Portfolio –  If you have room on your table, it is nice to bring a portfolio or even just a photo album of work you previously sold or didn’t bring with you.
  • Craft Supplies – Work on your craft during downtime… besides the fact that people are curious and may ask you about it, it keeps you busy.
So far my experiences have been positive. One of the fairs was not high in sales, but was full of information. I learned which of my designs seem to be the most popular and what price range people were more likely to buy.  I hope my next craft fair in Tupper Lake, NY on October 15th proves to be a good one. 
Cheers and good luck in your own artistic endeavors.