Creating and Selling not as different as you might think
As all creative people know we create from our experiences. Those life moments that add up to the combination of habits which mold us to the unique individuals we have all become. A process so natural to our existance we don't even have to think about it yet what type of medium we create in, weight of line, or choice of colors are all a byproduct of these experiences. Each piece we create is a story..... our story and becomes as unique as we are. Picasso's creation of Guernica inspired by the bombing of a small village in Spain to your capturing of a landscape that grabs you are all connected in this way.
Yet as creative individuals we miss this as the main ingredient in selling our creations. Any salesman worth their salt will agree it's all about the story. People purchase what they need or wish to aquire not because they are forced to but because it fits some purpose or connection in their life. A good salesman will continually weave a picture that a potential customer can identify with cretaing a bond that leads to the sale. The stronger the connection the easier the sale. Antique cars are defined as cars 25 years old or older. This is because in that amount of time individuals achieve enough financial security to start aquiring through a wishful though process so the vehicle they seek becomes the one they had or wished they owned in their youth.
Seems common sense right. So why do we as creative makers seem to fight this? I came to this understanding 25 years ago when I could see that if I painted a piece that grabs my interest people responed to it differently than other pieces I created. As I worked into a piece and it became more of a repeated application to capture whatever inspired me I realized my thoughts went to "who else would be inspired by this?" I saw a pattern where by the time I finished a piece I had a list of potential customers in my head. People conected by those who could create (me) and those who could purchase ( the customer). As I seeked to support my family it became obvious that if this was true I needed to create from places that more individuals are connected with.
In 1995 I was looking to transition from being that wildlife artist which was the first step out of a day to day career to the creative individual I am today. I knew in my heart I was not inspired by a ring-necked duck as much as I was the Vermont landscape so I went to a safe place to paint. I set up my easle 10 feet from my house and started a painting of Lois Perfect's next door. As I worked the piece I enjoyed hearing Lois and her daughter Suzanne laughing around her diningroom table. We were in the beginning stages of a drought so the light was the same every day between 8:00 and noon so I sat their every morning and worked. Suzanne, a former art teacher who gave me lessons when I was in High School eventually worked here way over to see what I was working on. After watching the painting progress for a few weeks she asked "Is this for sale?" I took a deep breath and said yes and threw out a price. She said "consider it sold". WOW! When I set back to painting I realized that this sale was easy because of all the connections with the piece, the artist, and seeing the growth of the piece. Months later I decided to put it into print with average sales. Another lesson on the path to where I am today.
Fast forward to 1997 when I was accepted into a show at Basin Harbor. A resort in Vermont which had a incredible idea to compliment a handful of artists with 2 nights stay preseason with the request that they create art for a show held during the height of the season where at least 2 pieces needed to have been inspired by their resort. My wife and I had a wonderful few days and were inspired by their incredible flower beds. I set out to capture that expreience in the oil painting "Reservatioins for Two" It sold (to the resort) before the show even opened and prints created for the show were selling fast. In truth it almost sold several times before the show from their clients who watched me paint and visited with me. Sales for all the participating artist's were good here and the Resort used their commission from the show to purchase pieces for the resort. Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant. With out even being aware if it they created a show where the creators had the same experience as the guests then connected those creating with those who could purchase those creations. What we call a host/ beneficiary relationship that is a model others should aspire to.
So what lead to both sales were obvious. A shared experience, my ability to capture the moment, and the connection with a person or groupwith the ability to purchase what I created. A sale! Upon reflection I realized that there was little difference in the inspired images "Perfect Morning" and "Reservations for Two" yet the sales potential was considerably different. The Perfect house over 100 years had a handful of people connected to the property while the Basin Harbor Club had hundreds each year. So I had to ask myself two questions "If the image is so similar I can't tell the difference why do I paint in places that so few people can connect with? If I paint scenes that inspire me then who else would be inspired by what I am painting?"
This simple understanding opened my eyes to seek how people connect with a piece and what I could do, without changing what inspires me, to add to their connection. Simple steps like painting on location where a connection is made seeingnthe piece in progress. Being approachable so that a laugh or conversation adds to their experience. As a individual who not only creates but wants to open other to creativity I even let adults and kids apply brush strokes in areas like the grass or leaves on a tree. All of these have lead to sales even thoughit was not my intention.
So what simple steps can you take to create while increasing sales? A important stepmin continuing to sell.
1) paint in public whenever possible
2) Use social media to give individuals access to your process
3) Seek that which inspires you first and formost then search for individuals who share your experience
4) If someone expresses a intrest in a piece when it's finished get their email and send them regular images so they can witness its growth
5) Set up a Facebook page then create a album for each piece where you capture a time lapse of its development that the viewer can open and watch it grow with every click
6) Create your own method to allow for that common spirit to grow with the piece.
As life happens my vision has become a issue when it comes to painting but the lesson I learned have fed my new avenue for creativity in wood. A business called Verde Mountain where "we create so that your story lives on" A woodworking business where it's not about the wood but the stories of the wood which you will find as a source of topics forthis blog so stay tuned but if you are impatient then check out my website www.verdemtn.com
Now take off those chains and create..... the world needs you
Reed A Prescott III