Ask Craz! vol. 3

Check out Ask Craz! vol. 2

Say HERRO to my advice blog post series called “Ask Craz!”

The art business world can be vast and pretty daunting! That’s why I like to share my advice in my blog posts on larger topics like follower numbers, shipping commissions, selling in artist alleys, and more! From time to time, there are some questions I get that are a little smaller and — although they may not fill an entire blog post on their own — groups of them will!

Every Ask Craz! post will consist of a handful or so questions along with my answers. If you have a question about art or art business that you’d like me to answer for a future post, feel free to submit your question to me on the contact page or via social media! The more questions I get, the more I’ll be posting more “Ask Craz!” posts to the series!

Today’s edition of Ask Craz: “What’s the deal with Consignment?”, A customer’s commission redirection, and Flashy Business Cards.

Question:How do artists get their work in little local gift shops? That is so legit!

Answer: You may be shopping in a local shop and wonder: “How did these local artists get to sell their stuff here?” To be featured or make a business agreement, you have to be known. And the best way to be known is to go right up to them, introduce yourself, and show them what you have to offer!

I got my Christmas and greeting cards into shops by walking into local gift shops (and even restaurants that featured local creators), finding a shop manager, and basically asking “what’s the deal with consignment?” Some shops charge you for space (like rent) while some just take a 25%-50% cut of your sales. Each shop is different so find ones that suit your needs! 

Every shop manages their consignment differently, none of them have a ton of space, and there is a lot of competition in terms of greeting cards (which is primarily what I offer to consignment shops.) Plus people in these shops aren’t promoting your work for you. It has to speak for itself or you have to curate your display with signage and make it eye-catching.

Pricing will be crucial so that you can make enough money to make it worth while. With smaller paper goods like greeting cards, most people want to pay less than Hallmark card prices for cards. Because of this, it’s a delicate balance between pricing low enough to encourage sales and pricing high enough to make profits. I personally have found that consignment yields lower sales than I care to bother with; I’m in the suburbs and I have to drive around to check on inventory. All for a very small return on investment.

In my opinion, my efforts are far more rewarded with local logo design commissions and focusing my efforts on convention sales and website sales. In a lot of ways, consignment has some of the same issues that festivals have. I have come to terms that I may be better known online (globally) than I am locally. I’ll leave it up to my husband to be the local celebrity!

Question: I am working with a customer on a reference sheet design. They emailed me about 2 weeks ago asking for an update. I responded to them saying that I would be working on it on a flight home since they were next on the queue for sketching. I just sent the preliminary sketch for approval – that included the front view and rough color mock-up. Now they are telling me that they want a completely different character drawn. At the time they asked for an update, they didn’t tell me that they wanted a different character! Why wait to tell me about a change until after I started? Because of the custom design work I’ve put in toward the first specified character, I can’t reuse it in another project. The difference between the originally agreed to character and the new one is so significant, I’d have to start all over again! I allow for changes in the design process but this feels like a whole new commission. Since they had ample time to tell me about a change and were able to send me a bunch of refs with this new character, it feels like they’re taking advantage of me. What should I do?

Answer: This drastic change is on them but it may be premature for us to assume that they’re trying to take advantage of you. After a progress inquiry, you updated them on your work plans. After which, you worked quickly and efficiently with the information provided to you from the beginning. They decided to change their specifications of the final product midstream without notifying you. It wasn’t your mistake; it’s on them. It’s like ordering a BLT at a deli. But as they are wrapping up the sandwich, say: “oh just kidding. I actually want a tuna salad sandwich.” Guess what, Mr. indecisive sandwich guy: you pay for both. It’s only fair they pay for the work you put into the original order and pay a new quote for the new character.

If you haven’t done so already, you should work out a Terms of Service that covers dramatic changes like this and what it costs for you to start over. Additionally, include a clause about cancelling commissions in the instance that the commission starts redirecting you!

In terms of this customer, you’ll just have to be upfront and explain that by redirecting this project from the original plan, they are cancelling their original commission, forfeiting some of the original funds, and ordering a new one. You will have to discuss with them how they want to proceed: do they want to resume with both characters and what they want from you on this new character.

You also have to decide whether you want to work with this customer in general. Sometimes, a mistake like this is a fluke and it can be worth the headache if the customer is reasonable, understands this indecisiveness is their fault, and compensates you for your time and efforts. But if they show more signs of indecisiveness or derail your progress again, it may be time to discuss the issues they are causing and consider cancelling the commission all together.

Question: I like your holographic business cards so much, I figured I’d try them out myself for my upcoming Artist Alley table! But they’re a little pricy compared to most cards. Do you think it’s worth the extra cost since they’ll be given out like candy at the con?

Answer: I definitely love the holo effect! I can’t tell you how many times I get compliments on them at cons! If you think of business cards as an advertising cost and compare it to other forms of advertising. You want things that attract attention and keep attention. Holographic catches the eyes then makes them want to hold onto your work/info! I usually buy in large amounts so it reduces the cost per card to near/below the cost of any other card. I think I got 1500 cards last time haha! Just remember that the holo is more apparent on darker illustrations.

As for where I get them from, Cat Print is the place! Aside from their amazing quality and customer service, they’re a small business, they foster animals for adoption, and often contribute to charities. Check out my referral links for $10 off your order and they’ll throw $10 my way when you make your first purchase!

If you found this post informative, feel free to share on social media!
If you have experience or suggestions to share, I would appreciate your comments below!

Much LORF!

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