The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 30, 2013

Want to sell your own art or merchandise? Here's how

By Daryl Nelson
ConsumerAffairs.com

— As many successful artists and business people will tell you, waiting around for your big break is the last thing you want to do, because it might never happen. With technology being what it is today, there’s really no reason that you can’t put on an art exhibit if you’re an artist, put together and market an album if you’re a musician or promote and sell your homemade products to those interested in what you’re doing.

So to help those who are in the position of wanting to monetize their creativity or at least get their creations exposed to the public, we put together some fairly simple ideas to get you started, starting with how to successfully put on your own art show if you’re an artist, painter, photographer, etc.

To get some firsthand advice we contacted Florida-based artist, illustrator and art teacher Lars-Erik Robinson, about how independent artists can get their creations out to the buying public and how they can put on their own art exhibition.

Robinson says that securing a venue to show your art is the way to go, as opposed to holding an event at your house, but first artists should sit down with the venue owner and iron out all of the details, especially as it pertains to the door percentages.

“The most important thing to remember is if you are having your work in a certain gallery and you want a certain percentage, you’ve got to think about everything [like] how long it took you to do your piece and if the percentage they’re offering is fair, that’s one of the things you want to deal with," said Robinson in an interview with ConsumerAffairs.

“You also have to have an interview with the person to see if you trust them, and see if you’re willing to work with that gallery or outlet, and if you do set out on your own, you have to figure all of the materials and all of the labor. It’s up to you to finish that piece and figure out the prices. That’s a whole other issue,” he says.

Robinson also says if you’re unable to put enough money together to hold your own exhibit and secure a venue, you can bring in other artists who can show their own art and split the costs with you. This especially works if you’re able to gather other artists from your area that share similar styles and artistic opinions.

Robinson pointed to an example of this collaboration style when he spoke about an event called Artistry in Motion in his area, where a bunch of artists pooled their resources so they could all show their work at once.

And if you’re a person who makes your own merchandise and you want to make a little money and get your work out there, there are several avenues you could take, but the best all have to do with the power and reach of the Internet.

Of course you can do everything yourself from creating your own website or simply setting up a Facebook and Twitter account to get your work exposed, but if you'd rather not create your own site and do all that legwork yourself, you can use a third party service to help get your creations to the public.

And some good sites that can do this for you are KitsyLane.com and Web.com.

Kitsy Lane is a site that helps small business owners and independent product makers set up online storefronts that it then helps market and promote. The creators of the site help people who want to sell their own merchandise, but would rather avoid the headaches associated with opening a brick and mortar, or starting their own online business.

The site is free to use and the company keeps in touch with you to provide advice on how to maintain and grow your business.

Web.com is another site that can help you get your merchandise out to consumers. The company will build your website and provide promotions through its marketing team. The site can also help get your website and company in popular search engines like Google and Bing, which is difficult to do sometimes.

Web.com also says it will reach out directly to your customer base by sending them emails and updates on your business and new merchandise, which is extremely useful if much of your time is occupied with other responsibilities like a day job or family.

So if you want to take your business idea from your head and put it into action, you first have to find out the resources you have available to you, and also remember that putting the necessary tools together to sell your merchandise or show your art isn’t as difficult or scary as you may think.

All it takes is being brave enough to take that first step so you can get your creations out to the public for feedback, because positive feedback could be all that you need to get your good ideas out of the dream phase and into the phase of reality, which is sometimes the hardest thing to do.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.