PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
You think about every detail of your work when you design it, modify it, redesign it, sometimes remake it and redesign it again until you’re ready to send it out into the world. One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes artists (and yes I’ve been VERY guilty as well) neglect to take the same care in the packaging and presentation (and sometimes display) of this work.
Packaging and display, just like your business cards and website, should complement your work. Sometimes, it can even make it better. I really hate seeing fantastic objects poorly presented!
I’m currently in the process of trying to make my brand more cohesive myself by including my logo on all professional correspondence, on my website and business card, and on my boxes/packaging. I’ll be working on moving this into tagging soon as well. I’m now including boxes along with work to my galleries and shops as a way to better represent my brand, and give them a more professional way to send along work that sells. Some artists will go as far as to design specific displays as well, depending on the demands of the work itself. Another thing to consider is product knowledge and function. If your work needs to be seen on the body to be understood, or otherwise explained, you could include an image or graphic on your hang tag. Some artists include descriptive text or artist bios on hang tags, too.
Since we’re all visual people, I decided the best way to talk about ways to package, present, display, or otherwise ‘make professional’ your work, I decided to make a Pinterest board as a (growing) inventory of examples from the web. Some of my personal favorites are Arthur Hash’s often simple but effective, clean solutions. I also got a great little earring card fold-over from Tara Locklear at SNAG this year with some new earrings(image seen here)! Here’s a link to see the board ‘branding’, along with a bunch of other product and jewelry examples: http://pinterest.com/katiepoterala/branding/. If you have, or know of anyone who has fantastic examples of anything related to this topic, please send along a link so I can add it to the batch!
Packaging/Presenting your work to the customer is such a significant, but unfortunately often overlooked, aspect of selling one's work. Bad or non-existing wrapping tells the customer " I sold this to you but I don't really care anymore about the work (or you) at this point, whereas careful, beautiful wrapping say the polar opposite and heightens the perceived value of the piece in the customer's mind.
A Japanese friend once gave me a pair of bamboo chopsticks. They were beautiful themselves AND came in a slide open bamboo box with engravings on the lid. Inside, the bamboo sticks sat in a little holder and were embedded in color matching fine wrapping paper. The whole experience of receiving the beautiful box, unwrapping the paper and then seeing the bamboo sticks in their little "beds" really heightened the experience and made me feel "special" receiving them.
Good for you to consider this important topic. Continued success with your work!!
Excellent topic. We collect jewelry and own items from many of our notable peers. We have often experienced both ends of the spectrum when finally receiving our treasures. I will state it flatly right here - the disappointment and deflated perception of value - of both the work and the artist when we get a poorly packaged piece is quite tangible. Sad but true example: we once purchase a piece from a very well known member of our community, the piece cost close to $1000. It came wrapped in newspaper! This level of incompetent customer relationship management and arrogant disregard for well studied methodologies of successful retailing is insulting to me as a customer. Doubly so because I am an artist and marketer, and know better.
As Brigitte articulates so well, its about the entire "experience". Your packaging sets the expectations and perception of you and your work. On a basic level its the same principle behind why we wrap Christmas and birthday gifts in brightly colored paper. Your work is special. Everything about your customer facing presentation should communicate and reinforce that.
Do you have to spend a lot of money on this? No, not at all, and there are abundant examples you can springboard from for you own use. But at least make an effort, because it sure shows when you don't.
Katie, I think this is a great post, and I agree that presentation is incredibly important, but I would like to offer some feedback based on my previous experience as a manager in a retail gallery setting: I think that artists should check with their galleries before sending their own boxes and presentation materials, because often it is not possible to use these, even though the intention is good. Most galleries have their own "branding," and their packing and wrapping reflects this. Even though it might be nice to use presentation materials provided by the artists (it would cut down on gallery costs!) it can create a huge storage and organization problem if dozens of artists are sending these materials. I'm sure some galleries have adequate space to store your materials and would appreciate them, but other places simply do not have the space and the staff to support this.
I also think that more artists need to understand that it isn't appropriate to include business cards with contact info with gallery sales. If a gallery is representing your work, they are investing in you and cannot afford to give out your info so that future sales are made directly through the artist, bypassing the gallery. I find it especially tacky when an artist expects their business card to be included with sales, and they have an etsy site (or some other direct sale) listed on the card. It can be totally appropriate and helpful to include a card with your name, care instructions, logo, etc, but to be professional and useful to the gallery, it should not include a contact for direct sales. (And let's be honest, even the most web illiterate person can search and find the artist online with only a name and their medium, so galleries are getting bypassed more and more everyday.)
To sum up, just ask your galleries what materials they can handle before you send them, and have some separate professional cards made specially for gallery sales that do not include info about artist-direct sales.
Excellent points. Sharon -- You're absolutely right. I've worked with people who have asked for displays, people who don't want anything, and others in between. You bring up a good point, thanks for sharing!
I can't wait to look at this pin board. For me, it seems words have a great impact. I use the tag line
"uncommon jewelry for independent women" and it seems to go over well. I also have said women need to be brave to wear my jewelry. Well, any art jewelry, because people will notice, they will come up and talk to you. One has to be ready for that, if they wear art jewelry.