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Tips To Becoming A Successful Artist & Craftperson

By Johnny JW Morlan

The world and the Internet are filled with artists. Artists are everywhere! Because of the competition, only a few get noticed and make money at it.

Take these for instance, on the Internet,, and Sure they receive an immense amount of visitors per month,, has almost 16,000 artists and over 100,000 pieces of art, has at least 10,000 artists and over 90,000 pieces of art and has 8,000 artists and 62,000 pieces of art!

It takes numerous traits to be an artist and businessperson! Some can be taught and some can not.

The Tips Are Not In Any Particular Order, Each One Is Important

You Will Find Out, The More Tips You Initiate,

The More Successful You Will Become!

* Choose a medium that you have a passion for.

* Do your homework. Study that medium; study the style of all the artists in the world in that medium that you can.

* Do what 99% of people won't do.

* Give yourself a business name, example: {First Name Last Name Acrylic Painting Artist} and open a completely separate bank account for the business.

* Create your own style! Be different and stand out from the crowd. TV show producers and magazine editors look for this and it also eliminates most of the competition.

* Offer your art in a wide price range. Have something for all wallet sizes.

* Always give the customer more than they expected to get.

* People love to deal with professionals. Present a class act. Always present yourself, art and business in a professional matter. That includes having a logo, letterhead, business card and the merchandising that accompanies your art.

* Sell your artwork merchandised with a certificate, folder and a brief biography/profile, especially if it is a one of a kind piece. People appreciate this and it also documents the piece for future reference. Tell a little about the piece in a description such as the title of the piece, what type of medias were used in creating it, the style of art it is, its size, the year it was created and always sign it.

* No matter where you are selling, if you give the majority of people too many choices, they get confused, overwhelmed and can't make a decision on what to buy. Depending on the size of artworks you create, Exhibiting 25-50 should give enough of a selection without being overwhelming.

Keep an album portfolio handy and if people wish to see more, you can let them browse through it. Better yet, you can leave it close to you and people will look through it. Just keep a close eye on it. Make sure that all the photos are marked with the artwork name, medium and price. They have albums with room above the photo so you can place 1" x 3" white or transparent labels. You can even write sold on the ones, you have sold.

You can also direct and help people decide which will create more sales by for example if you sell limited edition prints, marking the prints that sell best. Actually with the above, people will go one of two ways, they will either decide to go with something that is marked that they like or decide not to follow the crowd and purchase something that isn't marked. All artists have favorites of their artworks, just mark your favorite ones. If you have a lot, alternate them with each show or exhibition.

* Get a Merchant account so you can accept credit cards. A lot of people like using them to make purchases. 75% of my sales are paid with a credit card and 9 out of 10 of my credit card sales, people use either Visa or MasterCard. It is rare that anyone gets denied a Merchant account, the reason being you are not applying for any type of credit. The credit card companies will get 1%-3% commission on every one of your sales.

* From years of experience, the best way to sell your artworks is retail, you selling them directly to customers. Selling wholesale, to retail stores and galleries, you are only going to get approximately 50% of the retail selling price. Artist agents {managers} usually receive 10%-25% in commission fees of each sale they make. If they get a gallery to sell your artworks, their commission comes out of your net profit. With the extra money you are receiving, you can do a lot of self advertising and promotional stunts. Besides, unless you have a lot places and they are vastly spread out or they are in tourist traps that are selling your artworks, you are only promoting your artworks and name to a minute percentage of people in a very small area.

The three best ways to sell retail are at art festivals, arts and crafts fairs or via through the Internet {WWW}.

Art festivals and arts and crafts fairs have their disadvantages. Each one you attend takes you out of the studio {shop} 3- 6 days depending on how far away it is. You have to setup and tear down your booth, you can do well at a particular one, one year and the next year have hardly any sales at all, because this year, the economy is bad, the promoter did not promote the event very well or just that they had it on the wrong weekend, and another event drew more people's interest. Sometimes you have to carry large sums of money around, the lighting and security at some events leaves a lot to be desired. Again, in all reality, you are only promoting your artworks and name to a minute percentage of people in a very small area.

Even if you do get accepted to exhibit and sell at one of the countries fine art festivals or arts and crafts fairs, it will cost you $1000-$1500 for the booth fee for 3 to 4 days and there will be 300-500 booths. Yes, 50,000-100,000 people may walk through in that short time, but the majority of artists either do not sell enough to even cover the booth fee or just enough to cover the booth fee along with their travel, lodging and dining. Only a small percentage will actually make money {profit}.

The Internet is the best way to sell retail. You are promoting to many people in a vast area. Below is a text link, going to a page that displays a world and United States map indicating the approximate location of my websites last 1000 trackable visitors. It may take 30 to 40 seconds to fully load, the maps are large.

There are numerous online websites that are inexpensive to sell your artworks on that get a fair amount of traffic {visitors}. They charge $0-$100 annual fee and 10%-15% commission on each sale. Excluding my personal business website, I have my artworks on 50 or so websites around the world. I do get a few sales, referrals that led to a sale or inquiries. The one that I have received the most sales {excluding my website} from or referrals that led to a sale, is They do not charge an annual fee and they only charge a 10%- 13% commission fee. 100% of my sales come from the Internet and approximately 95% from my own website.

You really do not know who could be looking at your site or your artworks featured on another site. I have received numerous e-mails asking me If I would be interested in exhibiting my artworks on other websites, interested in exhibiting in a brick and mortar gallery, brick and mortar retail stores telling me they were interested in selling my pieces, gallery owners and managers, magazine and book editors, TV show producers and even art managers wanting to know if they could represent me.

Yahoo Business has their Merchant Solutions Starter website service for $39.95 a month. You can create your website with no HTML knowledge. You can have sales up to $12,000 per month. You get 10GB's of space and 200 GB's of data transfer {bandwidth} a month. For $22.95 per month you can get the Paymentech account that is a merchant account that allows you to accept credit cards. Both total $754.80 per year. As 99% of artists have their studios in a basement, bedroom, unused room of their house, a one or two car garage, or a shed or building on their property, you can see that is not much overhead, for a website!

* On the Internet, it is wise to have and display a toll free number people can call. It will increase your sales almost immediately! My sales and inquiries increased by 25%, in just the first 6 months after getting one. It gives people more confidence about purchasing from and dealing with you because a lot of times most people associate toll free numbers with buying something or getting information from a business entity. From experience, a very high percentage of people will not call your business long distance if it is their dime. Most of my calls are to place an order. A lot of people are very apprehensive about using a websites shopping cart, even though it is secured, but will not hesitate to give their personal and credit card information over the phone.

Some people just like speaking to a real live person. Stop and think about it, if you talk to a person, say for 10 minutes, at 7 cents a minute, that is 70 cents. If you only get a $25 order, it was worth every penny of it! You will have to shop around, but you should be able to find a plan for a monthly fee of $5 per month or less and 5-7 cents per minute.

* Always include a minimum of 6 business cards with each piece sold. The majority of people have an inner circle of 6-9 friends. You can bet those friends are going to see your piece probably in the next few months. Believe me, people give those cards to their inner circle of friends. In fact, several times over the years, I have had people contact me and ask if I could send them some more cards, because they had more friends that had seen the piece they had and were interested in my work.

* Don't be afraid to be different. Do not follow a trail, make the trail for others to follow you.

* Always price your art so you have room to barter. Leave yourself say 10% for this. A certain percentage of people love doing business this way. It makes them fell good. Caution do not take this too far!

* Give a small percentage {3% is good} discount for customers paying in cold cash versus say credit cards.

* If you accept credit cards and the customer is paying for the artwork with a credit card, offer them a two or three-payment plan if the purchase is say over $100.00. This will generate more sales and give some of your customers a chance and way to buy and own your art. This is especially good during the Christmas season.

* Have a quantity buying discount schedule. This works well for companies and corporations that like to buy gifts for their employees and during the Christmas season.

* Always respond and return phone calls and e-mails as promptly as possible. It makes one extreme difference! Preferably within 24 hours. When I phone or e-mail people a lot of times the first response over the phone or line they write in their e-mail is thank you for contacting me back so quickly.

* Hard work! Long hours! These are the two most important factors that will help you create your own luck.

* Remember all criticism is are people stating their opinions. Should go in one ear and out the other. After all, you are the one expressing yourself! Only a small percentage of people are going to like your art. All artists have their followers.

* Remember that there are three ways to do anything in life the wrong way, the right way and your way.

* Believe in yourself and know when your art is among the best. You will know this from the body language, facial expressions, and the eyes {eye contact} of the people viewing your art.

* Convey a positive attitude at all times and only associate yourself with people that have positive attitudes about you and your work. Get rid of the nonbelievers and pessimists!

* Never give up no matter how hard it gets. Have persistence and determination.

* Don't listen to relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers or any one else that gives you that line of bull that artists starve!

* Be a jack-of-all-trades master of none. Learn as much as you can about business, self-promoting, advertising, merchandising, photography or any other subjects they will help and save you money in your business. After all an artist is an entrepreneur. The only one that can truly sell your art is you!

* Treat all clients as if they were made of gold because they are precious.

* Never do commissioned work without a written and signed contract!

* Even with a written and signed contract never start work on a commissioned job without first receiving 30%-50% deposit upfront of the total price!

* Never sign or sell a creation you are not proud of!

* Pricing their artwork is very difficult for most artists! There are so many variables involved. If you do #2 & #4 above you should be able to command the price you want. If you are doing the same style as other artists, price your work competitively to theirs. With limited editions, the fewer that you will be creating, the more money you can charge. With one of a kind, custom made and commissioned pieces, you should be able to argue and command the price you want, as there will be no other like it.

You should always price your work, regardless of where it is being sold. You should include shipping and handling in the USA in the retail price. Most people will not take the time to contact you for a price and they hate to ask. Also people will think you are playing the price game. Here's how it goes. The first person or couple of people that contact you, you quote a price. If they accept without hesitation you will probably assume you are not asking for enough and raise it. The next contact you raise the price. Vice versa if you do this say a couple or three times and they do not buy you will probably assume you are asking to much and lower the price. The problem is that customers know this.

Pricing your work shows professionalism, shows you have confidence in yourself, you have put a price on yourself and that you are not playing the price game. Remember price is a matter of opinion; you are not going to please everybody!

* Have an unconditional 100% money back guarantee, the longer the time period from the time of purchase the better. Include that shipping and handling will be paid by you to return the piece back to you within that time period. Your customers will believe that you must have a lot of confidence in the piece to sport such a powerful guarantee, which in turn gives them a lot of confidence about buying from you.

* Never sell your pieces on auction places like ebay or Ubid. You are not going to get anything for them. The majority of people that place bids at such auction places are only looking for bargains. Handcrafted and art pieces have no place at these types of auctions. Once you start selling at the low price levels, you will have one heck of a time ever getting more for your work.

I once had an art critic and appraiser tell me when he looks at a piece, he arrives at a certain price in his mind, if the price the artist is selling the piece for is under priced he turns around and walks off, never giving the piece or artist another thought. The reasons being are, the artist could not possibly know their self, have very much confidence in their self, know how much talent they actually have and apparently are not too worldly as to know what the finer material things in life sell for.

* Never stop learning!

About The Author

Johnny JW Morlan

As a young boy helping his father with carpentry jobs, Johnny Morlan could never guess that one day his gorgeous wood pieces would adorn not only the finest American and European homes, but would even be presented to the President and First Lady of the United States.

When Johnny was just seven years old, living in Moberly, Missouri with his family, he began assisting his father, working on various carpentry projects. By the time he was a teen, the artistry that would later make him such a success was already apparent. "My dad would get annoyed with me because I would always want to make the finish moldings and cabinets more intricate," Johnny chuckles. He loved making small wood objects, but was often told by his father and others that there just wasn't a market for such items. "Well, in 1989, I stopped listening to the nay-sayers, "Johnny says, "and I've never looked back."

Having already worked for a furniture contractor and in the lumber and hardware businesses, he had a solid base of knowledge as he founded J.W. Morlana's Unique Wood Gifts. But he also had a passion to keep learning and growing in his craft, reading over 220 books on the subject and constantly striving for perfection. Now working in Lubbock, Texas and a recognized master in his trade, Johnny Morlan has worked with over 500 species of wood and keeps more than 125 species in stock. He cares deeply about the environment, works with woods endorsed by the Rainforest Alliance Smart Wood Program, and in the last few years was nominated for several distinguished leadership awards.

Johnny has worked with unique woods since 1983. People from over 130 countries have viewed and admired his creations. He is a member of the International Who's Who Historical Society {his short biography is featured in the 2001-2002 edition of the International Who's Who of Entrepreneurs}. He is a member of the following organizations and associations: Rainforest Alliance Smart Wood Program, National Arbor Day Foundation, International Wood Collectors Society, Woodworker's Website Association, Woodworkers Book Club and a lifetime member of Handyman Club of America.

Some of Johnny's creations have been bought by or given as presents to professional people, foreign dignitaries of state, celebrities and even the President and the First Lady of the United States.


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