I’m sorry if this might ruffle a few feathers…however, due to the nature of Artists’….WE ARE GOING TO GIVE IT TO YOU ANYWAY!
I think about things a lot and want to write about them but don’t always have time to really put pen-to-paper. I’m a master creative and communicating is what I do on a daily basis. That being said, I wanted to write about a couple of topics that keep re-surfacing in my brain like the “message” at the bottom of the Black 8-Ball.
I now consider myself a full-time artist and have been designing my handmade art cards for the past 15 years. In the last eight, I have been illustrating and turning my whimsical designs into many kinds of products. I’m with other artists’ almost every weekend. All kinds—Fiber, Clothing, Painters, Photographers, Ceramics, etc. and we all “talk” as they say….about our experience and interface with customers when we have time between customers. We are never at a “loss for words” – just trying to do/say the right thing.
Honestly there is NOTHING THAT MAKES US HAPPIER than having inspired customers who love our work, want to take it home, wear it, send it, display it….
and BUY IT.
That is, after all, why we are there. It does do anyone any good if we make a bunch of art and then stay home and keep it in the closet or the garage. I know my handmade cards are more expensive than most –but honestly, I’ve been told I should charge more. The days I consider it, I then worry that people will think they are really too expensive.
I offer a Buy (10) get one Free (a savings of $12). It is a loyalty incentive punch card like they give out at the Yogurt Stores. If you misplace the card, you can’t replace it. On my printed cards, I offer a Buy (6) or more and get $1/off each card. I have so many types of cards, so that this is an easy way to save money.
I start off with telling you there are discounts. But the Discount mentality is so culture driven these days…most people don’t stop to think that is becomes a HOT BUTTON…for Artists’. We tell you our processes so you can feel good about what you are buying. The thought that went into the piece, the time it took, the fact that there might NOT be another one exactly like it….EVER.
When you ask if we offer a discount if you purchase One, Two or whatever….our brain goes into “pleasing” mode before we have a chance to “think” what other discounts/questions/issues/shipping are we going to have to factor in. The truth is most of the time we say “OK” – giving you a discount on one piece before we know what we are dealing with—maybe you change your mind, want a different piece — we often undercut ourselves, our hard work, our profits, our expenses. It’s often a nightmare, it causes “upsets” (for us and for you, if we have to say “no”.) It’s hard to back-pedal on the deal when the perimeters change invisibly.
Each handmade of piece might have a different process, technique, time-frame we used to make it, sit, think, ruminate, solve, patch together and there is usually not “one price” that adequately covers materials/labor. If we did, the art would be so expensive, you might not want to purchase it in the first place. So we make cuts and take a smaller profit usually from the “get-go” –so our art won’t sound so outrageously expensive that you won’t consider it at all.
Case in Point: I had a customer many years ago who asked me to design some personalized cards for the girls in her husband’s dental practice. She had been giving them these kind of cards for years—but the woman she had been ordering them from stopped making cards. I didn’t normally offer this kind of card — but I thought I would try it. I figured it might be a good skill to acquire. After I finished doing them, I told her the price and she then proceeded to tell me the other woman charged her $2/per card less. I didn’t know how to price it before I started making it because I hadn’t done it before and didn’t know what it would entail. Well, that just put me on the defensive. That was her price, and this was mine. Totally different kind of card.
She then proceeded to let me know I was going to get “so much business” from this I should discount them for her on the “fact” that she was doing me a favor sending out my work to a new group of people for me who she “swore” were going to be future customers. *Spoiler alert…..
I felt really crappy and felt I had “sold out”. I told myself I would NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. I was mad (at myself and at her). Every time I saw her name on my mailing list I would relive that story and lack of integrity I had for myself. I deliberately took her off my mailings because I didn’t want to do business with her anymore.
Three years later, she showed up at one of my shows in Santa Monica and said she hadn’t heard from me and wondered what had happened. She overheard me offering a discount to a longtime customer who bought a lot of cards from me on a regular basis (who I was in the middle of handling a transaction for )– and then, had the nerve to ask me if she, too, could get a “friends and family” discount.
REALLY? I don’t think so.
I bristled, went into hyper-drive and told her that I had changed my business practices and was only offering discounts for special people/circumstances. She was not family. And quite frankly, she was not a friend. She was a one-time customer who always asked for a discount on everything in her life…and probably got it because she was so annoying. I think I rubbed it in that since my husband was sick or dying (or he may have even passed on) and now I had to take care of myself and I was running my business differently)….Memory fades….
So remember, when you ask for a discount, you are potentially taking away from an artist’s livelihood: Our being able to do more shows, travel to get there, get a pet/babysitter, pay for gas, hotels, meals, show fees, promotional postcards, etc. Often we are at the mercy of weather for outdoor shows and who shows up to the show/demographics in the first place. We don’t want to be a Starving Artist. We want to be a Thriving Artist.
So, it’s not just one “piece of art”. It’s lots of pieces we paid for in advance to make, ship, wrap, package, etc. We are usually in the hole before we start. We know that and we do it because we “LOVE WHAT WE DO”.
And really, we don’t want to disappoint you. We just want to keep doing what we love so we can bring your art that makes your heart sing.
Discounts are for Target, Walmart, Bloomingdales. Products that are made overseas in such massive quantities that they have such a good mark up they can afford to let you think they are “giving away the store” and they will still make money.
When we are organically offering a sale or a discount, it is because we have figured it out and we can afford to do so. There’s a reason we are having a sale—to move merchandise to make room for new items, because we have an overstock of something—or because we may be tired of looking at it.
Take pride in knowing that you have made a great decision in buying something for yourself or for a close friend who will love that you thought so highly of them to purchase a unique, one of a kind piece that you know they will love.
There’s NOT A PRICE you can put on that feeling.
Honestly, it rocks!
Appreciatively and in Gratitude for helping me sell over ½ Million Dollars of my own Art.
Elisa Goodman is the Owner/Designer/Prolific Muse of Curmudgeon Cards, I’m Skewed! – Encouragement Art with a Twist & Perched on the Moon Designs.
Her company is dedicated to enhancing your life through Creative Expression, Impactful Communication & Inspired Art.