Saturday, August 14, 2010

Randomness and much pondering...

It has been a long week, 6 days of work in a row, but now I have a little time off. Even though I have been busy, I did make a little time for art, I made the above wall hangings (these are just fired, no glaze yet) and pendants, and I glazed them last night. Notice in the photo, the shadow at the top and little whiskers, it is none other than my Max. The stack of wall hangings next to the whiskers did not make it, they were flawed and must go in the bin. Only about half of what I make ever makes it, that is just the way with clay, you never know what you get until it is done. I work in porcelain and it is even harder, but that is one of the reasons I like it best.
I have a question for all of you, I need your help with something. About two weeks ago I put out a call for orders, for custom made ornaments (see this post). It was a total failure and I need to know why. I asked a blogger friend of mine and they said they thought the price was too high.
I asked clients and they said no, they thought the price was fine, and a few have ordered some. I have thought a lot about it, these are one of a kind, custom made, you can't buy these in a store.
To me that is worth something. Sure you can buy ornaments, probably as low as 50 cents, but if you want something special does it come cheap? Should it come cheap? I don't do this purely for the money, I love doing it, but I also want to get some appreciation (in the form of money) for the work and care I put into them, as an artist it is often too easy to sell ourselves short. I also realize that for many money is tight and perhaps it is as simple as that. Or maybe July is too early to be thinking about this for most of you. I just want to know and perhaps there is no answer. Maybe you simply did not like them, or Christmas for that matter :-), or maybe you just don't need a custom made ornament. I don't want any of you to feel badly because you did not order some, I don't want pity orders :-). I just want to get my business going and I need to know what I am doing wrong, and who best to ask, then you? Is it my selling technique? God knows I could improve that. I tried selling Christmas cards last year and same thing happened. I know you don't come to my blog to buy things, I do understand that and I don't want you to feel like that is what my blog is about, it's not, but I do make art that I want to sell, So help me out and just give me your gut reaction, (but please be kind :-). I appreciate your thoughts on this.
In other news, my mom is getting better daily. I am now thinking about a maybe move to Oregon, calmly and slowly. Looking into things at my own pace which tends to be slow :-).
Also thinking about many other things, but this post is getting long, so I will save the rest for later. Happy Saturday! Love. XOXO


becky said...

Hi Annie,
well, there are 2 that I want to order, but haven't yet, but will give you the details when I see you. Maybe for some, it is too early... could also be the economy & the fact that more people are getting by with what they have vs buying something new. For instance, last Christmas, my gifts were largely hand made (by me) as I was on a very tight student budget. Anyhow, those are thoughts that come to mind. Kudos to you for being creative after working so much. My job is taking all my energy currently & my creativity has gone out the window.
Have a Happy Sunday... I know those are your special days!

Annie said...

Thanks Becky, for your thoughts. I can't wait to meet you and have some fun! I do have to FORCE myself to be creative after working so hard, but once I am doing it the energy comes back, but sometimes I just go watch my DVD's of "Lost" instead :-).
I appreciate your support so much. Is the "Dream" cup on your travels with you? xoxo

Anonymous said...

As for me, I don't celebrate Christmas. I do think the economy will impact all businesses that are based around "nice-to-haves" rather than necessities. Also, I prefer artwork that has a limited palette. I like pastels. If I were going to buy a cup or vase, I would like blue and purple or maybe purple and red violet, or blue and green. But I would not like red, black and white. That's just not my taste.

I bought a small ceramic necklace recently. The circular ceramic piece is about 2" in diameter. There's a small hole for the leather thong and there are two little beads just above the knot where the thong comes out of the hole in the pendant. The pendants had images on them and some had words. Each was glazed in a different earth tone (lichen green, terra cotta, grey) and each one was $9.99. I think something like that, if marketed in the right places, could sell very well. I got mine in a national park gift shop, but it was handmade in another province. So someone did a lot of footwork to get their wares into that gift shop, I imagine.

Lynn Cohen said...

I went back to see the original post. I do not see anything wrong with your selling schpiel. I think your prices sound most reasonable, especially after learning that the whole process takes you six weeks to complete...then you may not be charging enough!
I do not celebrate Christmas either, but do sometimes buy gifts for a friend. I am not sure this is something I would choose to be perfectly honest with you. Not because there is anything wrong with them, they are cute...but may not be what would catch my eye for such a gift for this specific friend. All this said to convey that there has to be a click/ a match/made to get me/one to buy! And it may have nothing to do with how good what you are selling is.

I was at a craft show today in SF. A friend was selling art. She had not sold much at all and hundreds of people were coming through looking at hundreds of artists works. Some had shopping bags, most did not. Whose to day why one artists art sold over another?

I hope this feedback helps.

Lubna said...

Hi Annie,
I don't celebrate Xmas either, but from what I see of Xmas hangings in India,these are far more colourful and brighter.
Not too sure, perhaps these porcelain hangings did not catch the eye? Perhaps you could also try different shapes, stars (you have), hearts, holly, santa (Can you do Santa's face?). Make them a tad more colourful such as red and gold or something? Sorry, not of much help here.
But, good luck. Our positive vibes are with you.

Annie said...

Kelly-Thanks for your honesty, as I am sure that everyone's taste is different. As for the necklace you bought, I feel they are underselling their work, as many of us do, but many people feel they have to sell at any price. xoxo
Lynn-Thanks for your input, you are right of course, their may not be an answer to this question, perhaps it is just pure luck. Some have it and some don't. Now where can I get some :-). xoxo
Lubna-Thank you for yout thoughts. I create what is in my heart, so I can't really do something because it may sell, you get my drift.I am not really a green and red/santa kinda girl. The work is the work, some will like it and some won't, you can't please all the people. I think if I started doing pieces that I did not feel to do, they would not sell because I think people can tell. I do thank you though for trying and for the good vibes. Much love. xoxo

Annie said...

Kelly-It is late, I meant underpricing, not underselling :-).
Lynn-I meant there, not their :-).

Lubna said...

Yep, Annie. I can understand what you mean. Don't worry, you will get your own special customers, who understand and appreciate your creations instead of run-of-the mill glitzy fare which does not have a soul.

sukipoet said...

Hey annie, I do not decorate a tree and my Christmas celebration has narrowed down to providing a dinner for my son. I have family handed down ornaments made by my Mom, beaded things etc so if I did a tree I would use them.

Your ornaments are lovely but I do think (having tried to sell Xmas Cards) that carefully made handmade Christmas items like ornaments and cards are difficult to sell for the price they deserve when you think of the time invested by the artists. This is true for me too re: bookbinding. I made some gorgeous books with monoprints for the covers and all other wonders but sold them far below what the time and inventiveness in the making deserved.

I know it is frustrating and I for one when I was selling stuff just decided that if I get the cost of the materials plus a little bit more it was okay and worth the pleasure I got from making them and the pleasure it gave me that folks wanted to buy them. But basically it was pin money.

Course this was on Cape cod which was a touristy richer market. Up here in NH it would be doubly hard to sell small items for any sort of price that would leave me feeling satisfied.

I agree too that folks are keeping a tight hand on their money in these times. Or some folks anywya. The one's who arent rich.

All that said, good luck. And best of luck with your slow move. I too am very very slow to do just about anything. So slow that I sometimes frustrate myself. Blessings, Suki

yoborobo said...

Hi Annie! I do think that this economy has caused people to stop buying the non-essentials. Maybe it is because it is an ornament? I'm wondering if you should make something besides ornaments. Something you love (not santas, etc., I completely get that :). Have you done porcelain pieces with drawn images and words? Like something you could put on the wall, like a small ceramic painting? I'm just tossing stuff out here (I was thinking you could ask more for them, too). It might be good to try a few different types of things, just to see if anything connects. I'm going through the same mental exercise (trying to figure out why some things sell and others don't). :) Hang in there, this creative life is tricky! xo Pam

Annie said...

Lubna-Thanks :-). xoxo
Suki-It does depend where you are trying to slae the stuff, here they seem to think 10 dollars an ornament is just fine, but things in Taos are costly. For the ornaments I do make money, but I lose money on the bowls and cups, I don't even make cost, let alone the many hours (all handbuilt not wheel thrown which is much faster!)it takes to make them, but I love making them, so it makes it hard.
It is a funny that people what things for nothing these days.
Thank you for yout thoughtful comment. xoxo
Pam-I do make lots of things besides ornaments, little wall hangings with words(see photo in this post), pendants, earrings, bowls and cups. The custum ornament thing is just something I try for the holidays. Thank you for the thoughts. xoxo

Jos said...

Hi Annie

I was wondering if there might be some mileage in considering some synergies here ... what springs to mind for me when I look at some of your ceramic ornaments is that the single word ones in particular remind me of mantras ... is that your intention? To be honest I don't know enough about meditation and that kind of thing generally, but there must be some outlets that provide goods and services to people who do practise meditation.

I must admit to buying gifts much closer to special occasions, which must make it difficult for you in forward planning!

I don't think it's price though Annie, even though times are tight for a lot of us these days. xx Jos

Jos said...

Oh ... I forgot to say how delighted I am that your mom is doing better! That is good news!

More hugs xx Jos

Annie said...

Jos- Always so happy to see you here! I don't think it is price either, it may be for that one blogger and it may be for a few, but by and large I think the price is fair. Jos, I do sell many things with meditation and reminders in mind, not so much the ornaments, but I do try to make them so they are not "Just" for Christmas. The ones I was trying to get orders for were for people who wanted special custom orders with their families names and such.
But no takers except for one client and Becky. Oh well, I don't think my blog is the place to try and get orders, if most of my bloggy friends don't celebrate Christmas! I think I may try it on my Facebook page.
Thanks for thinking of my mom and for your prayers.
Much love. xoxo

xxx said...

Hi Annie
I haven't been over for a little while as I have been busy with some of my own little creative projects.
I'll go and visit the link...

I think no mattter what you are selling that a blog has a limited clientele and that possibly is the main reason for the lack of sales.

Love to you and keep on creating and looking to find out how you can make those sales.
With that formula you will be successful.

secret agent woman said...

No idea, since I'm brand new here. But Christmas ornaments seem like one of those very quirky things - people often have remarkably specific ideas about what they want on their tree. Or they already have the ornaments they want? Maybe it's one of those things that eventually the right customers will come along?

Annie said...

Robyn-Thank you and you are right, it is limited, so Ithink I may try my Facebook page and see if I have more luck :-). xoxo
Secret Agent-Yes, I do think it is quirky :-). Thanks for your visit.

yoborobo said...

Annie - all your stuff is wonderful. :) You are so talented! Just hang in there, everyone I know is having a heck of a time with sales right now. xoxo!!

ExtraO said...

Well... I don't celebrate Christmas, but I suppose it may still be too early. I don't think the price is too high for something custom made that takes quite a bit of effort on your part.

kate i said...

Hi Annie, I came here from Jan's site and just wanted to say that I love your ornaments! I really like the simplicity of the white porcelain with the stamped word(s) and will be coming back to your etsy site to order some.

My thoughts about creating or anything else for that matter? I think we have to do what we love because we love doing it and have a passion for it. It's almost like there's no choice...we'd do it even if no else came/bought/read/liked/looked or otherwise validated it. I know it's important to get paid for what we do but maybe that's the side effect of our passion?? These are just rambling thoughts that often bump around in my heart and head on the subject of creativity!

I don't put up a Christmas tree anymore as I'm usually heading south around that time but I would buy these to hang anywhere! I love things with words and text.

I really love your work and will be contacting you about some ornaments.

Annie said...

Pam-You are a doll. I love you dear one and thank you for the lovely comment. xoxo
Kate i-Welcome! Thank you so much for coming over and for your sweet comment. I totally agree, I do my art, the ceramics and the painting because I love it, can't not do it, as you said. At 54 I feel it is time to start to make money with my art as I want to do it ALL the time and because I don't sell enough I have to work way to much, it makes me sad that I have to go to work when I want to stay home and do art, this is a battle for most of us artists. I am so glad I asked the questions here in ths post because now I have so much of a better understanding of what to do next :-). xoxo

Annie said...

EOM-Somehow I missed you-Thank you for your input- I did remember that you don't do Christmas. I am actually LOL when I realized that many of you don't, this is not the place to try and sell the ornaments! :-).

Anonymous said...

Hia Annie,
I like the simplicity and heartfelt words you use on your ornaments. $10 I don't think is too expensive for the amount of work that goes in to them.

This year like so many other people we are trying to save wherever we can and I'm trying to make what I can.

angela recada said...

Hello sweetie! You've already received a lot of good advice here. I've got a lot on my mind today, and consequently my brain is mush, so I'm just stopping by to say "hi" and wish you a wonderful week.

angela recada said...

Ooooh - I forgot to add how glad I am that your mom is doing better every day. I know you will make the right decision.

soulbrush said...

definitely the economy and also too early for xmas,even my dil who usually buys things non stop is making all her own xmas preesies this year, making them0 i nearly fainted!!! so don't give up, try and try again. so pleased for your mom.

mermaid said...

Hi Annie. We usually make our own ornaments since my daughter loves art. They usually are simple paper crafts with markers, paint, and glitter.

I think it depends on the consumer's personal choice. I like ornaments that have a lot of color without words on them, but that's me. I don't think the price is too high, but it may depend on what people value. I hope you find the right buyers.

I'm happy to hear your mom is feeling better.

Annie said...

Melanie-Thank you for the input, I don't think it is the price either, all your comments have confirmed that. xoxo
Angela-I have been missing you, so nice to see you here.Love you.xoxo
Jossie-I never give up :-).xoxo
Mermaid-Thank you. I certainly don't expect everyone to like my ornaments, I was getting NO response, so I wanted to see what the trouble was and it seems there are many answers :-).xoxo

kj said...

okay, i'd better weigh in here since i'm the one who suggested the price may be too high.

i do think three for $ 25 is more attractive than three for $ 29.

i tried to think of myself at a holiday craft fair, annie. i buy alot of small and large gifts at craft fairs. that may be another venue for you, as i agree with robyn that etsy and blogging are not the largest source of customers.

so say i'm at a craftfair. i don't think i would buy several of these beautiful ornaments for $10 each. i would for $ 8 each. go figure: that is just how my head works. this is NOT to say they are not WORTH $10--i just think i would consider buying several at different price points.

i should say that the price didn't stop me in actuality from buying your ornaments on etsy. i did! happily so!

gee, annie, i hope i didn't upset you. do you mind if i say that i made suggestions because you asked?

don't give up. i know you won't/

all these comments here are filled with love


Annie said...

Kj-No, not upset, just wanting to know what it really was about, I don't think it is the price, mostly it is because people either don't celebrate or they make their own ornament. I never thought of that, I thought people did not like them :-).As to price, I know if they are cheaper I may get a few more sales, but not enough, it would not have made a difference with the people making the comments, and yes, they were made with lots of love as was yours. I do think fairs are a good place to sell, I just never have enough money for a booth (yet). I also plan on having a few sales, so you may in fact see the ornaments for 8at some point, but not in general.
I have to stick with my gut and go with the 10 :-). And no, I never give up! I do think I may forget focusing so much on the oranments and just do gift items and things that feel fun to do.I am really happy I opened up the topic. Love you Kj.