Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Art of the Sell

I am not a salesperson. Even when I worked in retail (okay, it was a market, but still...we did have an artsy/craftsy section), I wasn't ever one to convince someone to buy something. I would never sell ice to an Eskimo, as the saying would go, because I just find that rude. But if you love something and are trying to find the justification to buy it...that I may be able to help you with.

Artists are notorious for being bad sales people. I think it is an artist's conundrum to fall in love with what they create and therefor it is hard to let it go. Sometimes I refer to it as the "Smelly Cat" issue. I used to watch Friends, and in this one episode, Phoebe was playing for money, but she felt bad because "Smelly Cat" earned $1.50 while "Sticky Shoe" only raked in $.25 (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea). I feel bad when a piece is not loved. I had a smile from ear to ear when a little boy bought a 4x6 of The Toilet. Now this was not because a little boy paid $5 for one of my photographs. It was because this was the first time someone had wanted to take The Toilet home and love it (the way you love art.) I don't ever want to convince someone to buy what I create. I want them to love it. I want them to take it home and cherish it.

Now the other side to this is that I hate to see someone not treat themselves. By nature I am a very frugal person and I rarely buy things for myself, not really an uncommon trait in a mother of four, but it goes to intent. I don't treat myself, but I think that everyone else should indulge in what they love (I am a horrible enabler). Let me tell a story to illustrate.

This past weekend I was at a show. The traffic had been light and the day had been hot. I was losing my festival attitude (this had more to do with the constant sun and heat than anything else). A couple came into the booth and began looking at the jewelry. We talked about how I did this, and why I did that, all the while the woman is picking up my Aquamarine Maze cuff (this very unique, very one of a kind piece that I am not sure I could duplicate) and she begins to fall in love, but she puts it back down, and then picks it up, and then puts it back down. I hand her my card and I say I sell online, but she is still looking at the cuff. We talk about custom pieces, she asks if I could make something like the cuff again, I tell her it shouldn't be an issue. I am sure the cuff will still be here. She is shocked, "Why?" "Because lots of people pick it up, but they always put it back down and move on." It is speaking to her. In the end, it was made for her. The cuff wins the conversation and she takes it home, not wanting it to be left on the table, lonely. Most of my pieces are highly individual, just waiting for their owner to come and claim them.

I read somewhere that artists who put their work up for sale, but do not take into account their customers wants and needs, are selfish. I have to say that this is a salesman point of view. I am not a salesman. A salesmen is trying to sell you something, I want you to buy something. A salesman thinks that his product is the best in the world and will try to convince you of that in any way he can. I love my work and I hope that you do to, but if you don't, have a nice day, it is not for everybody. Now, maybe I will sell a few less photographs because I don't try to push them on people, but hopefully I will collect a few more art lovers.

Thank you for reading,

Sarah McTernen

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