This is a more optimal time to approach art and artisan craft galleries to buy from you than it has been in years. Gallery sales in the last quarter of 2010 were better than previous years, so their inventories are low and their spending capital is high. The wholesale craft markets aren’t booked until February, so you can get a foot in the door before they commit their yearly budget. So what are they looking for?
First of all, have a body of work to offer. A body of work is a clear, recognizable path that you are taking with your artistic exploration and creations. Every piece in your body of work relates to the other pieces. If your work is primarily extravagant one of a kind pieces, make at least 4 less expensive variations that still have your personal style and innovations. Conversely, if your work is generally well priced pieces without a lot of innovation, create at least 5 highly unusual pieces that show the very best of what you can do.
Markhed’s shop is the perfect body of work that would interest a gallery buyer. These pieces all relate to each other while bering unusual and innovative:
Galleries are interested in a broad price range. They want something new and different but buyers are also very cautious and gravitate towards work that they know from experience will sell well. My wholesale list is fairly large- I offer 21 pieces in 3 glaze patterns. Gallery buyers want to see at least 20 pieces that you can make and deliver in a timely fashion.
If your Etsy sales are fairly good, I would use that to show a buyer that your work has a following. Be aware that gallery buyers don’t want their customers to find you online and get a cheaper price. Before you approach galleries, remove all mention of sales, discount codes, and giveaways from your store, blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Have your online prices set at the same retail that a gallery would have. And plan to keep it that way, if you want to retain wholesale accounts.
Next Wednesday, I will cover how to approach a gallery to carry your work. If you have any questions, ask in the comments and I will gladly reply. I wish you all success in the new year ahead!
Lee Wolfe / OneClayBead