Are you ready to display your work in a gallery? A guest post by Jenny Timms.

VitreusArt-gallery-studio-Wakefield-Country-CourtyardIf you think the answer is ‘yes’, how do you do this? It can be a daunting undertaking if you haven’t done it before.

Maybe you belong to an art group and you’ve been lucky enough to sell your work at group exhibitions. Hopefully you’ve sold and family members and friends are queuing up to tell you what a great artist you are!

But here’s the crucial question – is your work really ready to be out there? And are you ready too, as an artist, a professional, a business person?

We (Vitreus Art) opened our doors 18 months ago, after 10 years of selling through other galleries, online and at craft shows.
Since then we have received a stream of people though the door asking if we would display their work and sell it for them.  This really isn’t the way to get a gallery onside!

Ask yourself – would I appreciate visitors to my workplace trying to sell me things? Probably not. A gallery owner has to be responsive to their customers (and potential customers). Artists turning up during the day without an appointment gets a future relationship off to a bad start!

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – there are some absolute fundamentals to take care of first:

  • Do you have a website and a business Facebook page (not a personal one that can only be viewed by your Facebook friends?
    • If not why not – you need one, it’s as simple as that, you need to be able to direct a gallery owner to your online presence when you first approach them
  • Whatever your art form you need good photos, for your website and for advertising whether it be printed or online – Good photos are a must. If you can’t show a prospective gallery photos of your work how do you expect them to agree to take your work?
  • If you are taking pictures of 2D art, take the photos before the glass goes on – reflections in the glass are a no-no!
  • Do you have business cards and or a flyer with information about yourself and your work?
  • Have you decided what you will be offering the gallery?
    • A one-off piece of work
    • A body of work (hopefully with a consistent look or theme)
    • Continuous supply of work – if this is your option then can you keep up with demand, can you supply the work as and when it’s called for?
  • Is your work properly prepared for a gallery?
    • Is it framed well?
    • Does it have hanging fixings applied – And yes, I have had work with the fixings in a bag, expecting me to fix them onto the back of the frame before hanging; that’s not the gallery’s job!
    • If the work is in a frame – is the back sealed properly?
    • Is the work labelled in the way the gallery would like? Please don’t deliver work to one gallery straight from another with their labels on, and don’t leave the previous exhibition’s pricing on a piece of work.
    • Go to the trouble of printing new labels for each time you change it from one gallery to another, it really is worth the time

And here’s a critical point – will the gallery be able to make enough money on the commission to justify devoting wall space to your work? If your work sells for £30 and the gallery’s commission is 50%, the potential revenue to the gallery is only £15; instead the gallery is likely to prefer to display a work with a selling price of (for example) £200 – the gallery makes a nice round £100 instead when they sell it!

As an aside – some galleries run themed exhibitions – if your work suits the theme of a show coming up you may find submitting work for a themed show is a good ice-breaker as those galleries will be expecting submissions from artists they haven’t worked with before.

Now – please don’t tell me you’re now off to see a gallery before you’ve done some research?

Consider the points above – come up with a list of galleries you think will be a good fit. Pay them a visit but don’t approach them on this occasion. This is your chance for you to see if you think your work will fit in their space. At this stage we suggest you consider the distance – if your work sells well will you be prepared to travel to the gallery to re-stock?

We’ve been guilty of this ourselves – working with a gallery more than 100 miles away, so the sales generated didn’t even cover the petrol, let alone the time involved or the cost of creating the art-work in the first place!

Now you have your list of possible (your work suits their style, price points and ethos) you can initiate contact!

Send them an email, addressing the owner/manager in person, introducing yourself and the reason you are contacting them – this is where having a decent website, a business Facebook page and  good-quality photos all matter.

If you don’t hear back within a few days, follow up with a phone call – but be polite. Most gallery owners are busy and get a lot of prospective introductions. If they are interested you should ask for an appointment.
If they aren’t, thank them for their time and ask if you may contact them at a later date, most will probably say that’s ok, but if not don’t waste any more of their time, or yours, and leave it at that.  Just remember – the art world is a small place so be courteous to people you may encounter again in the future!

If your contact is interested in your work, great – make an appointment and get your pitch in order. At this stage make sure you find out how the gallery operates. Most galleries will display your work on a sale or return basis; if this is the case you need an idea of how long they would like to exhibit your work.

It’s unlikely a gallery will buy your work outright so be prepared to understand how this will work. Sale or return will come with a commission fee charged by the gallery. This is standard practice (and a subject for a whole other blog) but you need to know how much that is and include it in your pricing structure

Make sure you turn up to your appointment on time and present your work and yourself well. Your art is your ‘passion’ and how you present it should be confident, but not pushy.

I get frustrated by artists who tell me they love what they do but then turn up with their work in a supermarket carrier bag.  Much better to carefully wrap the work, or make protective sleeves to keep the frames in good condition.

And think about how your 2d work is framed – marks or damage to frames is a no-no. Who would buy a piece of art with a damaged frame? Your work should look as if it’s brand new – even down to making sure there are no fingerprints on the glass.

And if you want to be taken seriously, make sure your own presentation is smart too – no painter’s smock please!

If the gallery owner likes what you show them, you may be asked to leave some of your work with them. Make sure it’s in saleable condition, and make sure you receive a consignment note detailing the work and its price – a piece’s wall price is the price the customer pays, the artist price is what you’ll receive when it sells.

Most galleries pay their artists in arrears by direct transfer – have your bank details to hand! This is a new professional relationship so it’s important that all aspects are professionally handled.

If the gallery doesn’t take your work, ask for a reason why (without being offended) as feedback is often useful; aim to keep the door open for future approaches with new work or a different style, or a different price point.

Happy hunting and good luck getting your work on show!

 

Who would start a gallery with the economy the way it is?

It’s a good question – who would start a gallery with the economy the way it is?

I intended to write this a year ago, when our gallery-workshop was just a few months old.
Back then we felt full of optimism but still heard nagging inner voices telling us we were a bit daft for even thinking of setting up what was effectively a shop, just when so many others were going to the wall.

On top of that, it was necessary for Jenny to leave the stability (and predictable income!) of a regular job. What were we thinking?

One year on from that part-written blog post and nearly a year and a half since we got our slightly sweaty hands on the keys to unit 4 Wakefield Country Courtyard the optimism is still there, the inner voices have been quelled and our early marketing efforts have paid off.VitreusArt-gallery-studio-Wakefield-Country-Courtyard

We’re delighted to have regular customers who seem to come in just after we’ve put new stock on display.
Our classes are steadily drawing new would-be and established artists and crafters keen to develop their skills or gain new ones.
Our studio is being used to create interesting (sometimes amazing) projects by students.
And we’re finding that folks who used to visit the Courtyard have started returning, having discovered that there’s more to see, do, eat and drink than there used to be.

So of course we’re optimistic – we’re working hard to make our business a success and seeing that pay off.

Some of the things that have really worked for us include:

Having a mix of income – we sell our own stained and fused glass, we sell other artists’ work for a commission, we run a host of our own classes in fusing, stained glass, glass appliqué and more.

We also have a talented band of artists who teach their own art forms to students for us, and we make our space and facilities available for a small fee to those who want to create but lack the tools or a suitable place to work at home.

We’ve built up a really good mailing list over the years. Our regular emails get open rates and click-through rates (which is actually much more important than opens) that are significantly higher than is common in our line of business.

A testament to this is that we’ve just taught a couple of ladies who joined our mailing list after attending our third ever class about 10 years ago; they’ve been receiving our monthly emails ever since and got in touch to ask for a private class at our studio this year.

We keep up our advertising in local magazines. When we get visitors telling us they saw us in a local magazine we know our adverts are being seen. Of course this doesn’t translate in to ROI, but we’re still ‘young’ and working to build our footfall.

We’ve also taken a leading role in encouraging our neighbouring businesses to join us in co-op advertising and that’s making a noticeable difference to the footfall across the site. It’s tempting to ease off on the advertising now we’re in our second year –it costs money after all – but we plan to keep the momentum up.

Running demo days and taster days to show visitors what we’ve got going on. These have been a huge success for us, and are a blast to run too. We invite our artists to join us for our demo days, and show off their skills.
Visitors get to see artists in action and are often inspired to join a class and have a go themselves.

The outcomes of our taster days are similar – we give customers the chance to try one of our glass crafts in a short session for just a fiver. Many then book a place on a full class knowing that they’ll enjoy it, thus reducing the risk!

Listening to customers and hunting out work we think they will like. We’ve tried hard to find work that synchronises with what our customers tell us they like, or actively looking for. We’ve also had to learn that what we like may not appeal to our customers. We remind ourselves every now and again that we are not our own customers!

Of course there’s a lot more we do that’s helping bring in customers – giving talks at WIs for example.
It’s all part of doing what we can to build our gallery, grow our reputation and help our lovely customers own or give art as a present, or even make their own art.

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve seen art you like, have tried a class and enjoyed it, or if you’re an artist yourself.

If you’d like to visit and find out about art and craft classes or check out the art we’ve got on display you’ll find us here:

Vitreus Art, Unit 4 Wakefield Country Courtyard,
Off the A5, near Potterspury, Northants NN12 7QX
Tel 01327 810320

Join our email newsletter group here…

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The Gentleman Crafter – as seen on TV and now on the road!

A post by Jenny…

We all like to share and re-post helpful FB comments, Tweets etc. that raise awareness of charities, disabilities and even political issues.

This is all very well, but apart from raising peoples’ awareness of these issues what does it actually help to achieve?
I for one am not really sure.  I find myself reading these things (sometimes, if I have time) but don’t actually do anything about it and I am sure there are a lot more out there that do the same as me.

So to actually help and hopefully make a little change, Vitreus Art is getting involved  with The Gentleman Craftsman, AKA Mr John Bloodworth  as he sets out on his new charity challenge – The All Counties Craft Challenge.JohnB

https://gentlemancrafter.wordpress.com/all-counties-craft-challenge/

We will be giving over our studio space on the 6th & 7th August so John can run two days of paper crafting in aid of MIND (http://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/)

In short MIND provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding – and a lot more besides.

The Gentlman Crafter (as he likes to be known) will be traveling the length and breadth of the United Kingdom in his trusty campervan and inviting people to take part in all manner of crafts.
You can book on to any of his workshops whether it be in your county or not, and learn a vast array of different crafts with John.

Some of these events will take place in his campervan so numbers are limited, due to space. Others will take place in venues like ours at Vitreus Art, Village Halls, anywhere able to provide a space for John to teach his crafts to like-minded people.
All proceeds will be going to support MIND.

Check out The Gentleman Crafter’s website to find out more about The All Counties Challenge – https://gentlemancrafter.wordpress.com/all-counties-craft-challenge/

If you would like to book on to one of the days being held at Vitreus Art’s studio-gallery you will need to be quick as spaces are limited here!
The cost of the workshops here are £30 for the day, and will include the materials you will need for the day.
The ARTea Rooms on site here will be open for lunch or you are welcome to bring a packed lunch with you.  Tea, coffee, soft drinks will be offered during the day as will biscuits!!

During the day you will create a framed paper art picture. This will incorporate various paper shaping techniques including quilling, paper cutting, scoring and folding for artistic effect, punching and making dimensional paper folds all of which will lead up to the finished piece. It’s going to be amazing!

All that for an amazing £30 per person which will go to MIND!!

To book go here and choose the required date, you can pay via card or paypal, it couldn’t be simpler: https://gentlemancrafter.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/all-counties-craft-challenge-group-workshop-potterspury-northamptonshire/#more-7823

If you can’t make the dates for this workshop but would still like to make a donation then please go here https://www.gofundme.com/allcountiescraft

It really is in aid of a good cause which needs all the support it can get, so please do help in some way.
Please don’t be like me and just read about it, take some action – NOW!!

Thank you.
Jenny T (50% of Vitreus Art)

 

So you’d like to really get in to making stained glass?

There’s no question – stained glass can be beautiful to look at and enjoyable to make.

The popularity of Vitreus Art’s one-day beginners classes tells us that there are plenty of you out there who fancy having a go.
And the fact that our 5-day courses sell out each year suggests that some of you want to develop your skills or work on substantial projects in a learning environment.

So what advice would we give to someone aiming to build on basic skills, and what learning progressions are available to the student?

We know from our own experience, and from observing how some of our own students have progressed, that there are three areas to think about when discussing this sort of learning process.

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Learn by doing, but with feedback
  • Design your own projects

Let’s look at these in turn, starting with…

 What do you want to achieve?

We often ask our students this – it’s a great way to open any conversation with a student and the range of answers is wide!

For example, some are considering getting in to stained glass as a lifestyle business; I guess they’ve seen our fleet of Lamborghinis outside the gallery and correctly guess stained glass is a path to riches!

Others seek a stimulating artistic hobby, while others yet have a specific project – replace a window in their home is a common project.

The other aspect to this question is – how good do you want to get?
Good enough to make that window, good enough to sell work at galleries or craft shows, good enough even, to make a living?

It’s eminently possible to have fun making stained glass without some higher purpose, and really – you can get as good as you want.
But to get to a standard where you can sell your work – that takes more practice.

It’s also necessary to have an understanding of failure modes so that you don’t sell pieces that will fall apart.
A common issue of this kind is soldering hanging loops to the foil on the edge of a piece; it won’t be long before the foil comes away from the edge of the glass as there’s only the adhesive on the back of the foil to keep it there, and that ain’t that strong!
Better to solder your loops in to a bead (a solder line between two adjoining glass sections).

Or for leaded pieces, a long stretch of U came around the edge of a piece with no joining H cames will also come away from the edge of the glass, no matter how well cemented. Again, don’t solder hanging loops to these cames. Solder them to corners, or to H cames where they meet an edge came.
And we suggest you use silicone glue to secure that long piece of U came to the edge – like on a mirror, for example.

These sorts of tips are often shared in our workshops – we’re always happy to exchange ideas and make suggestions.

If your goal is more lofty than just ‘I want to make glass for fun’ then some business acumen is desirable – and if you’d like to make a living creating glasswork then it’s essential, along with marketing, accounting and selling skills. A realistic perspective on how good your work currently is will help in the long run, even if it seems a bit harsh right now.

Take a look at the work on sale at good craft shows, watch other artists at work if you can (open studios are a good opportunity for this), and ask questions. How does the design, execution, presentation of the pieces you’re looking at compare with yours? Better? In what ways?

Be honest with yourself and don’t be disheartened to discover you’re not there yet – every successful artist and craftsperson had to start as a beginner!
Like all artists, Jenny and I made plenty of pieces while we were novices that wouldn’t pass muster. Even now, sometimes a piece doesn’t work out well enough to sell, but luckily that’s rare or we’d go out of business!

And this follows on to the next element – getting good enough to sell your work if that’s what you want to do, or good enough to make a window that doesn’t let in the rain!

Learn by doing, but with feedback

We’ve been watching the rise of the distance-learning programme for art and craft subjects for some years now.

Indeed, we’ve often thought about setting up our own online course – a structured system with pre-designed projects, each designed to help the student work on a particular aspect of stained glass. Maybe we’ll actually run a course like this one day!

For now, though, there are a few questions we don’t have answers to.

How does the student get real-time feedback on their progress, or on their techniques? I guess the student could send photos of work in progress and finished pieces or share in a closed group, but that just doesn’t seem to provide the degree (and kind) of feedback we like our students to have.

We really enjoy sitting with a student, talking through what they’re doing, showing, demonstrating, observing and providing constructive feedback.
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We also enjoy having our own work on display in our gallery – we can use pieces as examples of design features, setting a standard of execution, and, we hope, inspiring students on their journey.

We find that it’s so much more effective to give feedback and guidance as the student is working – this is giving feedback the student can use right there and then, rather than after a piece is finished and before the next one is started.

We’ve found, for example, that being able to watch a student position their glass cutter as they prepare to make a score allows us to help them adjust the angle, pressure and placement right there. I don’t know how we would work on that vital skill at a distance!

I could give dozens of examples of this kind of ‘up close and personal’ teaching but I’m sure you get the idea.

As students progress, and especially as they get really confident, or practice at home, we still offer a critique of their finished work at any time – and are always available to talk about displaying or mounting or framing their work too.

Both Jenny and I get a buzz from seeing work produced independently by students past and present.
And we take pride in the amazing pieces many of them have created – often using styles and techniques and materials we haven’t tried ourselves!

Design your own projects

Yes – design your own projects. They don’t have to be complex, or massive. They don’t have to follow a style, or an art era’s visual language, they just need to be yours, like this lovely window, made by Sally on a recent course with us in Porthleven.
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There are (literally) millions of projects to find on the internet, many made available free of charge by generous creators. These offer a great opportunity to develop the mechanical skills required for stained glass in your own time but before long you’ll want to make your own designs.

You’ll have to learn about cuts that are impossible or at least very hard to accomplish in glass, you’ll learn about design weaknesses resulting from lead or foil lines that cross the whole piece. You’ll have to learn about balance, colour, manipulating space and creating flow.

This post isn’t the place to teach these skills – they take time, and are often best acquired in the company of skilled tutors,

You could start with a main design element – like a rose or tree, or sun – and build a design around this – one way to design from scratch.
Study existing designs – why do the cut lines go where they do, how are the spaces and shapes balanced, do the proportions please the eye?

Read up on  golden ratios, learn how to draw circles, and find the centres of those circles (use the ‘box’ method – Google is your friend here), and get a book or two on the subject.

Maybe take elements from existing designs and incorporate them in to your own designs and discover how those elements themselves were created

And one further recommendation – learn to make those tricky scores work. Practice cutting deeper and deeper concaves, learn to cut circles accurately; this way your designs won’t have to be limited by your mechanical skills.

We often encounter novices who’ve avoided having to learn these skills by only making pieces with straight lines. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

If you lack confidence at first, use a flexi curve and a French curve, or circle stencils to develop abstract designs to make and thereby hone your skills. Some of the best stained glass we’ve seen was conceived this way. If it looks good and you enjoyed making it, nobody needs to know how you designed it in the first place!

Learning progressions with teachers – where Vitreus Art comes in!

We love what we do, and we want to help others get enjoyment from making stained glass.
This is the ethos behind out programme of classes and courses – take you from beginner to whatever level you aspire to reaching.

You won’t be surprised that  we suggest a beginner’s class to start with. In most counties you’ll find stained glass makers who offer classes – some off classes as an occasional adjunct to their main business while others (like Vitreus Art) run programmes of classes as an integral part of their operation.
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At the risk of appearing to sell you two classes where one might suffice, we usually recommend trying both traditional leading stained glass and then sampling the more modern ‘Tiffany’ or foiling  method. Unless you only intend to make foiled pieces we feel having at least a little competence in both methods hugely broadens the range of projects you can take on, as well as growing your appreciation of the history of stained glass, giving you more confidence in your abilities and aiding your understanding of the design constraints of stained glass.

But then what?

If you already have a project in mind you have two options with us –

If you’re feeling confident in your abilities you can hire a space to work in and the tools you’ll need by the day – as many days as you need to finish your project. These sessions are un-tutored but of course one of us will always be on hand to offer guidance or encouragement. You can buy your own materials or use ours, charged at cost.
Many of our students have made some fantastic work in this way and we like that way our gallery feels when students are working here!

If you’d like to combine working on your own design with a full workshop level of tuition, and with all the glass you’ll need provided, we offer weekend project workshops twice a year (and at other times by arrangement). We set a maximum size for your project in these courses to ensure you can achieve your aims without too much pressure!

We’re flexible about the kind of project you choose to work on  during our weekend workshop but we do ask that you’ll have done at least a beginner’s class in the method you’ll be using for your piece. We’re always happy to talk through your plans before you book to make sure you’re getting the best value from your course place.

And then we have our legendary 5 day courses – held in Porthleven, Cornwall and at our gallery-studio in Northamptonshire, near Milton Keynes.

Open to beginners and those with all levels of experience, these course give you the scope to tackle some really adventurous projects, or make a number of smaller pieces to develop a whole range of skills in one week.

On recent courses students have made projects ranging from highly complex mandala designs, to kaleidoscopes, to prairie-style 4-sided or 6-sided lamps, garden sculptures, windows of many shapes and sizes through to a life-size stained glass sheep to be displayed in the student’s garden!
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As with our weekend project workshops, our 5-day courses are fully tutored – and with a student to tutor ratio of 1:4 at the most there’s the scope for a really intensive learning experience.

Our course in Porthleven can be equally thought of as a artistic retreat, a creative holiday and a stained glass course!
We love teaching this course as the range of challenges our students bring to us broadens our own experience, and the environment of our studio right by the sea in a delightful Cornish fishing harbour inspires us as well as our students…

And back at our studio, our October 5-day course gives us the scope to host smaller class sizes for even more personal attention, usually for the most sophisticated projects. As with our other courses, we’ll work with you on your design in advance – to make sure it’s achievable and will withstand transport, hanging or mounting.

The final option for budding stained glass artists is to work with us to develop a programme of learning focused on achieving exactly what you want to achieve – which may involve exercises to develop skills, joint projects where we work with you on your project (like the 4 door windows below) or a weekly or monthly series of projects to test particular aspects of the art (and craft) or stained glass.
Dscf0733So there we have it – if you want to get in to stained glass – for a hobby, to make a project with sentimental significance, for your home, or even to sell, get in touch and we’ll help you get started on your journey!

Mike

 

 

 

 

Small retailers – it’s time to smile!

Yes, a lot of retailers are finding it tough out there.VitreusArtGallery

Despite recent reports that new car registrations are higher than ever suggesting that the UK economy is booming, the underlying story is that cheap finance is driving much of consumer behaviour, but that’s only benefitting sales of high-value goods – like cars and kitchens, and white goods and massive TVs too big for most UK living rooms!

Down at the lower-cost end of the scale, shoppers are being careful what they spend their disposable income on and that’s affecting many smaller shops.

Today we learn that M&S has had a woeful set of Christmas results; even my beloved Waitrose didn’t have such a brilliant Christmas, which was a surprise to me.

Doubtless there are lots of reasons for the prevailing sense of doom among many retailers but not being qualified in economics, I’m going to refrain from speculating. What I do know is – there’s a lot we can all do to help ourselves.

Part of this is marketing – I’ll come back to that.

Most immediately for me, having experienced extremely lack-lustre service in more than one smaller shop lately, and with Jenny prodding me to write about some of her experiences too, I’m going to ask you some questions…

  • Do you greet a visitor to your shop (or your stand at a craft fair?!) when they first step inside?
  • Do you offer to help, or ask a friendly question a minute or two after?
  • Do you manage to smile when on duty, and especially when customers are present?
  • When you see a potential customer is in need of help, do you get up off your chair and talk to them?

I hope so, but on the example of shops I and Jenny have visited recently not all independent shopkeepers do…

A key part of the appeal small, independent shops have for customers weary of high-street homogeneity is friendly service from people who are willing to help.
Product knowledge, genuinely helpful service and a cheery welcome are key differentiators – essential when we small retailers really need to stand out!

In our case, as a working studio-gallery with our own and other artists’ work on sale, going the extra mile to help a customer choose, or transport a piece of art, finding out if the artist has ‘something similar in different colours’  or getting something broken fixed efficiently, these are all aspects of service we consider to be the minimum necessary – not extras.

Given a chance, most consumers will moan and complain about the service they receive in our chain stores; I hear that and think – then come to our little shop and be treated like a human!

And that brings us to marketing. We need to get that point about treating customers as humans across to our future customers, and gently remind our current customers about it too.

So many small retailers are hoping that customers will find them, and then spend money in their shops. For me, hoping is not a strategy.

I do detect an element of ‘I have a shop – people will come in and buy things’ without the ‘I need to make sure people know about my shop’ among some of the small retailers I know.

Again, in our case, we advertise locally, we use national and local ‘what’s on’ websites and Facebook pages, we continually develop our email subscription and regularly (about every two weeks) email our list with news, questions, updates on our art courses and much more.

We speak at WI and U3A events about our craft, we take part in craft shows and cultural do’s.

We host events where visitors can see art being created and even have a go themselves, we get together with our neighbouring retailers to put on open days and outdoor events, we use our own social media pages too of course, but we don’t rely on them, and we do everything we can to encourage word-of-mouth promotion.

This is especially important – although we’ve only been in our gallery for a year, we’re increasingly getting visitors who tell us their friend (or relative, partner, neighbour) recommended us. Lovely!

But this only happens if we give good service and make our gallery a fun and interesting place to browse. And on top of this, we make sure we always have some work in progress on the bench. We’re a working studio-gallery and it’s proving to be a real winner for us – seeing work being made is a great conversation starter, it allows us to demonstrate our competence.

And another blessing – when we’re running classes at our studio visitors see what we’re doing and some of them want to get involved; we almost always take booking for classes when we’re running a class that day!

So the take-away from this last point is – activity. What can you do in your own shop to get activity going, get interest going, get customers asking you for more?

Demos? Have-a-go sessions? Events and talks, taster days?
Special products that the chains don’t or won’t stock?
Offering true expertise in your field that the staff in the chains just can’t provide?

An interesting, fun, quirky environment far removed from the corporate boxes on retail parks?  Yes, that all might sound like a lot of work, perhaps?

Maybe a better way of thinking about this is – marketing is a fundamental component of every business; just having a shop and putting things in it isn’t going to cut it any more (if it ever did).

It’s tough out there so get on with the marketing, make your offer really distinctive and fun, and remember to smile!