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business is for making money

updated mon 12 aug 02


Eleanor Crichlow on sat 10 aug 02

Several years ago I obsessively became involved in the ceramic arts. =
Like many people who have walked this same path, I have given away tons =
of my work and my many children (8) have pottery running out of their =
ears. My friends at the local art group have passed on so many horror =
tales of how much money they lost doing shows that I have stayed away =
from those venues. There is a local boutique in our community that =
fancies itself a gallery, demanding gallery percentages, when its really =
nothing more than a consignment shop. A twenty-five dollar bowl is sold =
for forty-five and then sits there - forever.

Since we live in a resort community, I decided to get a business license =
and put out a small sign. Although it wasn't a flood of traffic, I did a =
fair amount of business and children of tourist came and played with =
clay because they were bored to tears after a few days at the beach. =
Many, many residents dropped by and told me how great this was. Well, =
the local busy-body vigilante group saw to it that I take down the sign =
and quit selling from my studio - zoning issue. This community - =
Virginia Beach - allows a resident two yard sales a year but a craftsman =
is forbidden two craft sales a year.

I am sickened by this as I was at last able do something I loved that =
supported itself. Now I'm going to have to look around for a shop to =
sell from and hope I can cover the additional expense. I'm also going to =
have to spend a lot of time improving my web site although, so far, it =
hasn't produced one sale.

What recourse does an Artist/Craftsman have?

Eleanor Crichlow

Judy Musicant on sun 11 aug 02


One way of possibly creating a venue for sales is to form a potters =
guild and hold shows of the members work, assuming there are at least 15 =
or 20 other potters in the Virginia beach area who are interested in =
selling their work. This is a long term project, but can be very =
rewarding. =20

10 or 12 years ago, I joined a guild in my area of about 15 potters. We =
held shows, but the venues and/or publicity was lacking, so the shows =
weren't very successful. Then we found a park with a visitor's center =
that holds public programs on a regular basis. The show fee was minimal =
($225 for Saturday and Sunday). The shows (spring and fall) started out =
with 10 or 11 potters participating (we didn't and do not now jury, so =
the quality is admittedly uneven). The first few shows took in only =
$2500-$3000. Long story short, it took 4 or 5 years, and learning about =
the necessary publicity, but we've created a following, the guild has =
grown to over 40 members, the show has a waiting list for those wanting =
to participate and we are not taking in over $11,000 for the weekend. =
We've now started a 3rd, one day show around the holidays. Sure, this =
is still small potatoes, but it continues to grow, and we have places to =
sell our work. Plus, guild meetings can be opportunities for people to =
demonostrate techniques, share glaze recipes and solve problems, not to =
mention creating a community and making new friends.

Good luck, however you pursue your course.