Randy Hufford explains some facts about gift stores and retail applications.
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Other retail applications that you could approach besides galleries would be gift stores. Okay, typical financial arrangement with gift stores again comes down to negotiation.
Some gift stores will pre-buy everything that you supply to them, some of them are going to want consignment. When you do consignment whether it’s in a gallery or gift store the most important thing that you need to do is that you need to be visible to those owners and to the sales consultants in those stores on a regular basis.
Another words of view—add in 20 years 30 pieces into a gift store or gallery and consignment and then you didn’t show up for 6 months, there would not be as much impact as compared to a once a week, once every two weeks, you’re making your face known. You do an inventory on a regular basis. I had a situation where I had a gallery that I was on consignment and I kept delivering prints to them as I sold them and I’d never took inventory and they ended up going bankrupt and there was—I was only relying on them and they are counting to tell me what I should get paid for never doing inventory and confirming what they had in inventory and what I delivered and billing for the balance before they had gone bankrupt.
So, consignment means you’re entrusting somebody that you don’t even know. That’s why a relationship is really important and you need to be in front of them. You need to be visible on a regular basis with them.
So again, the same thing is doing a gallery, you need to go, look at gift stores, you need to go look at retail stores. Look at ones that actually you work would fit into and then go and talk to the owners, go talk to the managers of those stores and get their feedbacks. You need to feel good about it too before you even do it. Don’t go into a store just because you want to make money. Go into a store because it has a good feeling, they represent your work well and you feel confident with your relationship with them.
Another consideration with your images is licensing the rights of your images. I know of an artist Christian Reese Larsen that he had numerous galleries and then during an economic down turn, he closed all of his galleries. They were not generating income and the majority of his income was made from licensing rights. Example is he had images up underwater pictures of fish. And he even went to companies that sold theme parties to kids that had table cloths, napkins, banners that hang-up that were all his images for you can have an undersea world birthday party. That’s one example of licensing rights.
The other one is I know clients, I know artists that license their rights of their images to go on playing cards, coasters, coffee mugs, just about anything that are photograph would go on. There are companies that are willing to pay to license those images. For photographers, that’s called stock photo usage and there’s a lot of companies who use their Google search and their stock photos, there’s a lot of companies for that, that you actually purchase and you stock photos on a regular basis.
The amount of effort and time you put into licensing is how much response you’re going to get. In other words, you need to again get in front of buyers and peoples that use these images for applications. There’s also a magazine called Licensing which just talks exclusively just gear to most of the artists selling rights to their images for applications, commercial applications and retail product applications. It’s applicable for both artwork and photographers. There is a lot of potential on licensing rights. There is a lot of potential in negotiating to make residual income with licensing rights. It’s something that if you’re interested in to, you need to do a little research and definitely explore the openers of what you can do with that.
Another thing I’d really like to discuss is using marketing tools. There’s ways you can add value, perceive value to your images. One of them is by framing. Initially, when we first would hang our images into restaurants and other locations to get exposure, we did canvases and we only gallery-wrapped them which is the most economical. Now, we’re in the position where we frame everything because framing totally increases the perceived value of the image even if you don’t sell the frame with your pieces. So framing is a very important consideration to do.
The other one is making your prints limited editions. A limited edition is starting with the certificate of tirage. A certificate of tirage is a piece of paper that specifies exactly what you’re going to do with that image before you do it. So, if somebody buys a limited edition, they know that you’re only going to make 99 20 x 30’s and nothing else. And they know that there’s licensing rights that you can sell the commercial rights to those images. In other words, you can’t do 99 images 20 x 30 that sells out and then add 50 1620’s, you can’t do that. It would mean unethical because the value of your piece is determined by the rights that are giving out and what is going to be made from that piece and that has to be known upfront. But limited editions are a really good way to add perceived value to the image. If you’re going to do fine arts, it’s pretty much of a must to do that. I know clients that do limited editions of a thousand quantity but theoretically, it is not considered fine art if the edition is larger than 99.
The other way you can add value is by embellishing your prints. Embellishing is coming back with an embellishment fluid either a clear fluid or a clear gel and adding strokes to the prints or adding color, whites, yellows, reds, adding color to the prints which makes each piece a unique one of a kind because you hand painted that on top of the images. It’s another really good way to add perceived value.
Another idea is what a lot of clients do is they are doing edition like what I do is I do an edition of 95 images which is part of my edition, one through 95 and then I do five artists proof. There’s no difference really between an artist proof and an edition. There used to be a difference when you print it with old technology, old art when they did it with a stone, but today there’s really no difference using that except the marketing value. But using the printer’s proofs I take and I embellish and those are only numbered one through five, there's only five of those and those are going to sell anywhere from three to five times more than the actual edition.
Promoting and marketing your artwork is getting the exposure, in other words, getting your art in front of people. You need to also use your circle of influence, your friends, your family, social networking, business associates. That’s the best way to promote a market work because if you have friends and people that enjoy a relationship with you and love your art, they’re the best people to talk about your art, art and the best opportunity to get more exposure for your art. So for instance, businesses, circle of influence with businesses. I have friends that are doctors. I go on and decorate their offices. I have friends that are masseurs. I go and decorate their offices with my art. They allow me to signage up next to the pictures, they allow me to put brochures up, they allow me to put business cards up, and they get traffic all day long and it also brings a lot of things that they can talk about with their customers, when they’re talking about a view in our artwork so, using your circle of influence. Again the key is numbers of people to see your art and also people to talk about your art.