Thursday, May 25, 2006

Selling my Work
Last weekend, I participated in my first outdoor sales event. It was amazing how much stuff I needed to pull together just to be prepared to sell. Here were some of my biggest considerations:

Payment Options
In this day and age, it's not only getting outdated, but also risky to accept personal checks. I wanted to first: find out how to cover my butt if things went to small claims court, and second: find a way of accepting credit cards from a remote location. The solution to the first problem was to avoid checks if possible, or if not possible, to get as much information about my buyer in writing as possible. I looked closely at the check and some ID--made sure that names and addresses matched up. Also, I looked at the check number. Had this person been using this account long? As far as credit cards go, I found a great solution for me in PayPal's Virtual Terminal. PayPal charged $20 a month and a small percentage fee of each transaction. The Virtual Terminal was accessed from my personal computer and funds went directly into my PayPal account, which I later transferred to my bank account. With a small, plastic credit card imprinter (I got mine at POSPaper online), cards could be imprinted and receipts created while at the outdoor function. These receipts were keyed in later on the Virtual Terminal.

Booth Design
I had to just bite the bullet and buy a canopy for my booth. Most of the other things for my display were borrowed from other family members. I borrowed two 6-foot tables and several wooden boxes and wire stands from my in-laws' house. I had two smaller card tables of my own. For tablecloths, I used old white sheets covered by burlap that I bought by the yard from a fabric store.

After creating a few informational signs on my computer, I printed them off and laminated them at Kinko’s. I designed business cards and flyers using a Microsoft Word template for the cards and Pages for the flyer. I printed the business cards at Kinko’s, but made the flyers black and white and printed them at home on cardstock.

It was a surprise to me, but this part of the whole process actually took the most time. Having not sold in this sort of event before, I was unsure how to price my items. I needed a good record of my pricing, and what sold and what did not. On Microsoft Word, I created an inventory sheet and then spent several hours filling (and re-filling and refilling--as I changed my mind about prices) it in.

Packaging for Sales
Something I had not really thought about before was what to do with the piece after the customer decides to buy it. I ended up buying some brown paper bags bulk and a roll of craft paper to wrap the pieces in.

Customer turnout at the show was not nearly what we had hoped. After spending more money than I care to admit on all of the considerations above, I think I about broke even with my sales--maybe a little less. However, there were some very nice bonuses. I started a mailing list of customers who enjoy my work and got my information out there to potential buyers. I now have all of the supplies to put together a booth for another sale. I am also prepared physically and emotionally to sell again. What I treasure most is the valuable ideas and information that came from spending time with other experienced potters.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Finding Inspiration in Motherhood

Janis Mars Wunderlich is an artist who derives inspiration from her role as a mother. I recently read a short article in this month's Ceramics Monthly about her solo exhibition at Sherrie Gallerie in Columbus, Ohio.

I was really impressed by Wunderlich's use of her children as a creative theme.
Of her work, she says, "My recent work explores the idea of 'accessorizing' with children. Sometimes I feel as though my wardrobe consists of kids from head to toe. Instead of artsy or fancy accessories and jewelry, I have children hanging from my ears, neck, and arms! In a sense, the mother figure seems hidden or lost behind all the clingy creatures. But in reality, she is strengthened, clothed and made beautiful by them. They give her layers, textures, identity."

In today's world, where many look down upon women who make the choice to stay at home with their children, I find Wunderlichs unabashed pride at being a mother very encouraging. Instead of "giving up" a career outside of my home, I am gaining "layers, textures, and identity" and can use my experience as a source of insight and inspiration.

Wunderlich describes with almost humorous accuracy through her art what it is to be both a parent and an artist. In her own words, "My children inspire me with both their imaginative minds and animal-like energy. But parenting is physically and emotionally demanding! The tantrums, messy diapers and adolescent "sassiness" are emotionally draining."

Janis Mars Wunderlich, "Six Swans"