So here we are, still in the middle of the Corona virus lockdown. People are getting antsy now, wanting to get out and restart their lives and businesses before they are swallowed up in time, ruined financially, and forgotten. Artists certainly are no different, and that’s what I wanted to address here.
Have you thought about how you are going to face this continued shutdown and survive it? I’ve been giving a great deal of mind space about that and thought I’d share what I’m doing. I hope it resonates with and helps some other artists (or non-artists) who read this.
If you’ve read my March and April blog posts, you’ll know that I’ve been putting lots of ideas into how to move forward instead of lamenting over lost opportunities. There are so many more and different opportunities now! I believe the economy will boom after this is over, maybe incrementally rather than in a huge opened flood gate, but a rebound nonetheless. I believe people can’t wait to get out and do things again – fun things like going to art shows and spending a little money on items other than toilet paper, masks, and hand sanitizers. They may be hesitant to spend a whole lot of money at first. They will be looking for something fun to buy, that’s easily affordable but not an extravagant, yet is of high quality and value for the money spent. A non-necessity that’s a necessity to the psyche. And that’s where branding come into play.
As an artist recently coming out of a decade of inactivity, I’ve found myself having to re-establish my art career. One of the things I’ve done is create a brand for myself. We attended a couple of website seminars and learned how important it is to have a tagline, what makes it memorable, how it contributes to your branding, and how important it is to update and redesign your site periodically to keep it fresh and new. I made a tagline: ART THAT TAKES YOU THERE. It is short, pithy, and says exactly what my site is about when people first land on my home page. It states the goal of my art, which is to transport the viewer into the scenes I’ve created. It received so many rave reviews from other artist friends and the web designers giving the seminars that I had it registered as my trademark with the U.S. patent and trademark office. If you want to avoid the awful legal costs, you can do it yourself (which we did) but it takes a long time to jump through the hoops and can be very frustrating. Worth it in the end, though.
The second thing involved framing my original work to museum conservation standards, using 99% UV protection glass with no-glare properties, and 100% acid free materials, including rag suede mats. Suede mats colors are so saturated with richness that they truly make the art inside them pop in a way no other matting can. Because of the consistency of my style, my pastel medium, the velvety suede mats, and the museum quality framing, viewers should recognize my work before they see the signature on it or know whose booth space they are in. This is branding – instant recognition. All of this brings more value to the buyer. Why? Because that person will never have to worry about fading, and that includes the mats. That buyer will never have to be concerned about glare from windows or UV lighting. The glass is crystal clear, like the glass on protected paintings in museums. Whoever purchases an original painting of mine will never worry that acid spots from none-buffered mats or from none-acid foam core on the backing will appear on the work. It costs more to do this, but the buyer will know he or she has purchased a valuable work that is worth the price paid. The point is to brand my work as a highly valued, desirable addition to a home or office that will last for generations.
All that being said, what about the people who want something valuable, but can’t afford a four figure original painting? There are always limited edition prints. I used to do off-set lithography prints because that was the only option available for art reproductions up until the 1990s. At that time color-fast giclee on-demand printing was introduced! The quality, color saturation, and printing on mat rag paper was perfect for my pastel medium. So, I switched. They are more expensive than lithos, but still far less than an original. In my recent product bag, I’ve added giclee reproductions printed on canvas, then stretched on wood frames like an oil painting. Easier and less expensive for buyers to frame to their own liking. Also added during this time of quiet will be enhanced canvas prints, where I will be bringing out highlights by applying appropriate acrylic paint to the canvas – little touches of originality and added dimension. These additions add labor cost to the canvas giclee prints, but create a product that’s unique and of higher value. The trade-off is in the framing costs to the consumer, not a point to be forgotten.
Lastly, as my brain continues getting ready for the boom, I’m thinking of the bread-and-butter items every artist needs to make a show a real financial success even without selling an original painting. I used to make and sell note cards, which filled that bill admirably. Alas, thanks to the age of the internet, cell phones, video face-time chats, and so many other smart technological innovations which blossomed during my decade of inactivity, barely anyone writes notes anymore. Here are some things I have done, ideas I’m in the middle of, and others I plan to implement: 1) creating ceramic coaster tiles with images from my art. They are gorgeous, and I can sell them for about the same price as a package of note cards. I can take high quality jpg images of vignettes from some of my favorite paintings long since sold or new ones in my inventory, and turn them into coasters or wall tiles. They make great home accessories or gift items. I had some made and will take them to my first show in August. 2) I am working out an agreement with a metal laser engraver to do line drawings of my most popular animal and bird notecard subjects to put on metal insulated drink cups. They can be personalized with the recipient’s name. He has a lucrative business selling these personalized cups, and has approached me to do the drawings and receive a royalty for each cup with my design on it. He has even agreed to supply some for me to sell at my shows. The details aren’t finalized yet, but I love this idea! Hoping I will have some of these for my show in August also. 3) Limited edition hanging Christmas ornaments with my art showcased in miniature gold or silver plated frames. I’ve been in touch with a company that makes these exclusive ornaments, and they are exquisite! Not your ordinary tree ornaments, but things of beauty one will hate to put away after the holidays. There is a minimum order involved, so I will do only one design a year, and make them limited to that run so that when they are gone, they’re gone! This way, they will be sought-after objects of value and still wonderful, affordable gifts for buyers or others on their gift lists.
Maybe you’re wondering what these things have to do with branding. Everything! I’m looking ahead to create art objects that are of the highest quality possible for anything I offer, yet diverse enough to fill important gaps in my art product line. And, since I’m using my own art imagery, it’s still Art That Takes You There. In this age of covid-19, we can’t afford to stew in our own juices, but instead be ready when the lockdowns are lifted, and get out there!—-Signing off as JEAN CARTER KIMBLE ART — Art That Takes You There.