“For Sale: Marketing Your Masterpieces,” Ensign, July 1979, 65
I felt encouraged to develop my artistic talents after reading President Spencer W. Kimball’s message, “The Gospel Vision of the Arts,” in the July 1977 Ensign. No longer need I feel guilty, I told myself, about an artistic hobby which I thoroughly enjoyed but which had seemed so terribly frivolous—decorating eggs as jewelry boxes: cut, hinged, lined with velvet, and placed on a stand.
After beautifying my own home with some of my work and presenting some as gifts, I was surprised at the encouragement I received to sell my creations. Suddenly I saw a way to supplement the family budget without leaving home, and even involve the children in the process.
But department stores turned me down: “Too fragile”; “Pretty, but not for us.” I was discouraged. Craft shows, though tantalizing, would require me to spend my summer weekends traveling, paying exhibitor’s fees, etc. So I pursued the marketing options closer to home and found more than a dozen craft outlets that had opened within the past two years. When I found that most of these shops were willing to take merchandise from beginning artists on consignment, I was on my way to successful marketing. (The 1979 Craftworkers Market published by Writer’s Digest lists nearly 3,000 such outlets nationwide, many of which receive goods by mail.) Some merchants pay periodically, others on demand; from the latter I collect proceeds of past sales when I drop off more merchandise. I keep a careful record.
Consignment sales are an excellent way to build a reputation and clientele, I have found, and ensure a steady income. I began attaching a card to my work, listing my name and address. Customers also welcome information about the craftsman or the piece, and, where applicable, handling or washing instructions.
Among the best sellers in crafts are usable items such as toys, musical instruments, pottery, glass, jewelry, leather goods, pillows, and quilts, as opposed to strictly decorative pieces such as wall hangings or knickknacks. In general, people won’t buy what they think they can make themselves. For example, metal and woodwork sell very well; needlepoint and embroidery don’t.
Yet the handmade masterpiece is more than just useful. Since its beauty appeals primarily to the spirit, it’s a joy to have around. Elizabeth Petty Bentley, Baltimore, Maryland