Archive for the ‘clients’ Category

The Start of a Commission…..

This past April I was asked to do a commission for a friend of a friend, based on three things: 1) she loves our marbled fabrics; 2) she wants a fiber piece for a small area in her bathroom; and 3) she would like it to draw on the colors from the new granite counter tops. So for 6 weeks I’ve been mulling over possible designs, knowing that the final one would be based on what happened with the marbling session.

We marbled yesterday, and I worked with the colors I thought would go with the granite – gray, black, brown, russet, copper. I tried a couple of different patterns, and what follows are the pieces I came up with. Warming – they’re pretty blah in the pictures….

Marbled patterns

Marbled patterns

I chose the stone pattern to begin, for two reasons. One, I like quilting that pattern, and two, I figured this would give me some ideas. Well… sure did. I started snapping pictures as I was quilting. I used a Rainbow thread from Superior (of course) in a rust shade to bring out the rusts in the painting on the opposite wall of the bathroom. It was just what it needed.

Quilted marbling pattern

The texture is incredible and no longer flat. The piece also now has a title, “Hiking,” as its future owner hikes the mountains and canyons of Arizona – and especially Sedona – often.

This is so totally different from what I had originally been thinking. I know that this will act as the center medallion of the piece, so I went looking for coordinating fabrics – in my newly organized studio, so selecting was a breeze.

Lots more ideas, as the white area is probably going to become a small bubbly stream, and I pretty much know what’s happening with the borders, but that’s for another post.


Thursday Thoughts – 7 Steps to Niche Marketing

It has been a very busy July for marketing and the business. I think those of us who are artists wonder at times about 1) the need to market, 2) continuing to make our own art, and 3) how we pull it all together. I sure don’t have all the answers, but I think at this point I have some insights on the process.

* You need a plan. You may not know what you’re going to do in the plan, but you need one. Sounds contradictory, I know, but you can make it work because part of your plan is to plan your plan. At this point my high school students would look at me and say “Huh?”

* You need to set aside time to read about marketing. What should you be doing? What tools should you be using? Set a deadline, so you don’t spend months at this stage, like I did until I finally started to do some of the things. When I ran my learning center and we had no money, I would do what I called “shoe leather marketing.” I was out talking to everyone I could about our learning center. Nowadays that “shoe leather” is social media, so spend time learning about that. You don’t need to be a net nerd for this step – there’s lots of available materials to read to get you started. Look at Social Media Examiner for a quick tour of Facebook and Twitter and what you need to do. Read Problogger about setting up and running a successful blog. Buy a book or two…or sit with a coffee in Borders or Barnes and Noble and browse the books.

* Set up Twitter and Facebook and start posting. Set up your blog and start posting. Read other blogs and start commenting. This becomes very important as you write more and create more of an active social media presence.

* Make your art. There is no point doing all this if you have nothing to offer the public. In our case, we have already established a few outlets: Ebay and website. Our website has a gallery with art work available for sale. Ebay has small pieces of fabric for buyers to create their own artwork.

* Decide who your customers are. This was a big issue for us, as a result of all the reading I did. I want to sell our larger artwork, but we have a great market in selling small pieces of marbled fabric for others to use in their creations. The more you read about selling on lie, the more you will see the suggestion to develop a product to “launch” and make money. I stumbled with this one. What would I do? Then came the proverbial 2 by 4 over the head – we already had customers. I needed to refine what we had already been doing. Consequently we continue to sell our fabric as well as put our artwork out in shows, galleries, and on line. It’s not an either-or. I am after art collectors who like fiber and mixed media, as well as quilters and crafters who like to do their own thing. Two worlds come together.

* Just do it. To quote Nike, nothing’s going to happen if you don’t do it. Just thinking about it will give you lots of ideas…and will make you go nuts in the “to-do list” department. (Ask me how I know this….) But there comes a point when you have to do it. Then…..

* You need a plan. Yup, all over again. I have discovered that I will need to have a very set plan for how to handle all of this once school starts again and my art/marketing time is limited. So over the next two weeks I will set up a calendar: 1) what gets posted each day, 2) when to write and schedule the blog posts, 3) how to schedule Twitter posts, 4) maintaining the Facebook Fan page, 5) writing a newsletter, and 6) making art.

I’ll keep ya posted! Any suggestions????

Who’s My Customer?

Well, it has certainly been an interesting day – lockdown at 8:20, a few minutes into the start of the day, seems to be a false alarm, but 30 minutes later we are evacuating the school…to the stadium – 3000 kids, mind you – and then trying to get kids to leave with parents only, moving every one to the university’s older gym, angry aprents not understanding why we can’t just let them take “friends,” and finally back to school for the end of the day….I would much rather teach than have to do this.

That said, I have some time to kill right now while I await my ride, and as I am exhausted, I probably won’t write too much tonight. I need to think about Bob and Jane, my potential art customers. They are both middle class (for those of us left in this economy…) with some disposable income. They like nice things, especially since now they are settled, almost empty-nesters, and can look at exploring the possibilities of buying/owning art.

Bob isn’t sure what to buy. He knows what he likes, he’s interested in the back story of the item, and he’s willing to pay the price if he really likes the item. He knows art can be collected, and sometimes its value increases, but he isn’t sure he wants to collect art as an investment. He is of the belief that “I know what I like when I see it.” He walks galleries for the enjoyment and likes when an owner takes the time to talk to him about the various artists. He’s not a really fashionable dresser – he likes to be comfortable, so it upsets him when gallery owners make an assumption about whether or not he can afford to buy the art and consequently ignores him. He looks at art books, not really sure about all the fanciful jargon. If he sees something he likes, he feels he is now in a position to buy it. He would really like some guidance on where to find good galleries that have interesting and unusual artists. He doesn’t just want “regional” work, like only Southwest because he lives in the Southwest. He will buy “big” in size if he loves the work.

Jane is similar. She has been a “crafter” all her life, from crochet to knitting to needlework. She loves small pieces of art and, like Bob, enjoys knowing the story behind the piece – who made it and how. She collects primarily smaller pieces, the more unusual the better. She feels uneducated about art as she had no training or art courses, so she is easily put off in galleries. She needs to be reassured that if you love the art, it’s perfectly okay to own it. She prowls craft shows, not knowing how to make the leap into other more “art” venues. She would like guidance on buying art for enjoyment, not investment. She’d love to give small piece of art to close friends.

Whoa, so I’m selling to me…..and maybe this was the whole purpose of this exercise….I want to reach out to those potential customers like me who want to know where to go for good art, unusual art, and great customer service. Hmmm….more to ponder….

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