Selling the Sizzle

8 Jun 2011 in Artforms, Crafts Blog, Regions, Visual Arts & Crafts

On the first hot and sunny day for several weeks makers came from far and wide to listen to inspirational speakers for our summer event in Inverness.

‘Selling the Sizzle’ was Tina Rose’s suggestion for a title and it seemed very appropriate,and all the more so, as the day progressed and each speaker had another tale to tell about how they go about selling work. We were certainly feeling the sizzle by the end of the day!

To get things started our keynote speakers were Professor Georgina Follet and Dr Louise Valentine who outlined the exciting plans for the V&A at Dundee and what this will mean to makers and designers. To have this amazing resource in Scotland as soon as 2015 is a huge undertaking but with support, funding and the drive of a focused team is seems it will happen – I for one can’t wait.

Selling the Sizzle, Dr Louise Valentine and Melanie Muir

Deirdre Neilson is a name that is familiar to many of us -as artist in resident, mentor and textile artist extraordinaire but her talk was about how she has completely embraced all the new Social Media to promote her work. If everyone was not Tweeting by the end of the day they should be!

Then to get everyone talking we had a first – Speedcraft! The brainchild of Tina with assistance from Carol, it was a brilliant way to get people talking about their work, making new contacts and exchanging ideas.

In the afternoon we continued our theme with four speakers each with a different approach to retailing.

Maggie Broadly from West Kilbride and Craft Town Scotland, Steph Marsden from Edinburgh’s  Craft House Concept, Emma Blain from the Shetland group Text- Isles and finally Carrie and Clare from Made in the Shade in Glasgow.

The day was aimed at getting makers and retailers to look at new ways of selling, to inspire and enthuse! We certainly did that and I don’t think I have seen such an animated group of makers in one place for a long time.

Selling the Sizzle

Our event was another of HI-Arts Crafts promotions to support the sector in developing their work and to assist them to find new markets.

Through our Mentoring to Market programme makers have researched shows from Origin to Country Living.We took a group to London and Craft Central in May to showcase their work and then another group headed to Germany and EU-inqe trade and retail show. All have come back with similar tales of declining sales, the huge costs of exhibiting and all through no fault of the organisers or the quality of work on show. The public seem to love their work but very few are buying.

So where do we go from here? Are the days of trade and retail shows over as makers are getting less and less keen to commit to the outlay with no guarantee of sales?

I personally feel that the time is ripe to look at new ways of selling and to be creative with your approach.

Use social media to promote, think local and niche events, look at new customers in areas you may not have considered, get together with like minded makers for pop up shops and party events, be as imaginative as you can. And when the economic storm has passed – as it eventually will – you will be ready to take on the world!

Whatever you do, if your work means anything to you, you must not give up but see change as a new and exciting opportunity.

Pamela Conacher 8th June 2011