Question for those selling prints @ markets/fares

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by hoffy, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Hi Folks,
    I have never sold an analogue print. Ever. I have been contemplating trying to organise some sort of exhibition, but to be honest, I am not sure whether it would be worth while, especially if I have to rent a space.

    What I would like to give a try first is markets and fares. I have an event in mind as a first off (a car/culture festival) but want to optimize my opportunity. With this in mind, I have some questions for those who have/do sell in this way:
    • Do you frame, matte or sell naked? At this stage, I am leaning towards loosely matted (I.E., in a matte, but easily removed).
    • What sizes work best? I am thinking of a mixture of 16x20, 12x16, 8x10 and postcards (a lot will be square, so the smaller dimension).
    • Fibre or Resin core? Do people really care?
    • Pricing - OK, this is totally subjective, but I would imagine that you would not be able to demand the same premium as you would an exhibition. What pricing points have worked?
    Cheers
     
  2. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    This was my 34th year of exhibiting at a local annual arts & crafts fair. I offered 10x14 and 12x16 prints in 16x20 mats, framed or unframed, and loose 8.5x11 prints. Too many sizes complicate the logistics of exhibiting. It might be easier to exhibit only unframed prints with the option of framing them on the spot, but customers seem to accept buying whatever is displayed. All mats are white, the frames matte black. Tailoring the color of the mats to the image might be better in some markets, but otherwise is a nightmare. Uniform colors and sizes can make a more unified exhibit. I started out with mostly resin and occasionally fiber paper, but now do only digital printing on gloss paper. No one has commented on the differences. My prices are little above the cost of exhibiting. This helps in establishing repeat customers. Many of my sales are to people who know me. Perhaps strangers would pay more. In my few exhibits the prices are raised to cover the gallery's fee. Sales aren't as good as in the arts & crafts fair which draws thousands of potential customers.
     
  3. rrusso

    rrusso Subscriber

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    I've thought about this as well, but I wonder if it would be more successful by sticking with smaller sizes - postcard, 5x7, 8x10.

    Wall space is typically at a premium, and the larger sizes might dissuade a potential customer. I mean, even if you switch the photos out, they still have to be stored...

    Seems like the profit margin would be a bit higher with the smaller sizes too.

    @Jim Jones - did you adjust your pricing to reflect the digital prints vs. rc/fb?
     
  4. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    There aren't too many collectors at arts and crafts fairs, so I don't think those kinds of questions are asked. It's more if they like it and think the price is okay they buy it. Next booth.
     
  5. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    One exhibitor I know here in the US always has at least one image that he will sell for a twenty-dollar bill. He says he gets a good many impulse buys, and some of these buyers later get in touch for more expensive prints.
     
  6. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I've done about 200 art festivals over the last 20+ years. I don't know what they have in Australia, but I can tell you what I've learned in the US. If they have flea/farmers markets where you can get a space for 20-30 dollars, I'd start there. Here, art festivals can be 500 dollars for a weekend- expensive to learn at that kind of cash. Use standard frame sizes, and display a few framed pieces. The majority of sales will be matted (for me about 75-80 percent) but, if you keep them standard, framing them won't cost the client a lot. I don't ever offer unmatted prints, except for special orders post festival. Have a nice write-up, about yourself and technique, to hand out (I put them in the back of the bagged, matted prints). Buyers want a connection with the artist. It's important that they like you- be personable, presentable, and express your passion for what you do. No one will buy from someone they don't like regardless of how much they may like the work.
    I only sell fiber, darkroom produced prints. Over the last few years, I've found buyers drawn to traditional technique, tired of seeing overly produced digital work on canvas, etc. They're even willing to pay more for an individually produced photograph.
    As for pricing, I started out selling 5x7s matted to 8x10 for $25. My highest price was a 16x20 matted to 20x24 for $225. Bear in mind that was over 20 years ago. Today, my smallest is an 8x10 matted to 11x14 for $60. My top is a 20x24 matted to 26x30 for $775.

    I think you'd do well at a car festival, especially with your detail images. If the cost of entry isn't too steep (bearing in mind your costs for matting/framing/etc.), I think you should give it a whirl. There's nothing like the feeling of selling a few dozen photos in a weekend. Good luck, and let us know what you decide.
     
  7. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    All of my production prints were freighted to several places in Western Australia, another in Queensland, three in Tasmania and more still to Singapore and Hong Kong (contacts established in the early 1990s).
    With some very specific exceptions (personal delivery), all prints were matted only, never framed, as framed prints present a risk of damage in freight and insurance is picky about this.

    At the very minimum you should show you are serious about the quality of your work, and that includes presentation. Print, mat (either loose or sealed to prevent tampering with the print) and enclosed in wrap (unwrapped matted prints get very dirty and tatty from repeated handling, especially at markets etc.)

    I have stuck to the 12x16" size for many years, and occasionally blow the printer's margins by enlarging to 80cm across. This presents challenges carting the stuff around, even in a wagon! Print what you are comfortable with, and can afford. The overall presentation of the product is more important than its size.

    Get a couple of prints block mounted and also dibonded, additional to matted prints.Offer these options for various mounts at additional cost.

    All of my prints are warm-white Regal 9-ply rag matt with Burke black molding. Prints are labelled verso.

    Pricing — yes, really subjective! Start conservatively (e.g. at cost, and a little bit more), especially if going to a market. I have never seen anybody spend more than $200 at a bric-a-brac weekend market, but there can be exceptions if you set up a swank, eye catching rig that speaks of quality. Get a marquee and set this out with trestles inside to hang prints. For a 12x16" matted print, I started at cost-price + 20% and this worked very well. More recent prints have been priced at (and sold for) $1,470 (Lake Bonney/South Australia), sold by word-of-mouth and invoice book. Galleries are terrible here in Australia and have been accused of sending artists to the wall. I held one exhibition only and it almost bankrupted me as the people were added to the list by the gallery, not me, and it was me who had to pick up the tab for drinks and nibbles (several $1,000). And only two prints were sold.

    It does not matter whether your prints are produced in a darkroom or by digital or whatever other means.
     
  8. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I only offerprints the way I like them and the way I would by them for the price I would pay for it and have. In short11x14"dry mounted and matted to18x22" under glass if no shipping is involved from $100-$300.
     
  9. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    No, they are priced by size and if they are framed or not.
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks for the responses folks. There is certainly some food for thought and I have to admit, I am feeling a bit more enthused about this. Would I sell what I have sitting in the wardrobe? No, no I wouldn't. I suppose I just need to give myself time to print some stock, which is going to be the hardest part (time that is).

    Very good idea. I was thinking of having a whole bunch of 5x7's or 5x5's as "postcards", unmounted, untouched on RC paper. $5 or $10 a pop. At least that might pay for the site rent for the day and get some stuff sold.

    Yeah, car shows and Rock'n'roll type events is what I was thinking. Rent shouldn't be overly bad and its a captive audience into what I predominantly shoot. My biggest fear is the old "hey, why are you selling photos of my car?" types (I have seen them before online), but that could easily turn into "Cool, that is a photo of my car!". I know pricing is going to be a bit different in Australia, but I would be probably a bit less as a "beginner".

    Thanks for the insite. Considering that you are local (enough) its good to read what you have been through (& I have known your name for long enough, I do respect your experience). I am definitely going to start out printing in the darkroom, mainly to prove to myself that I can do it and produce a sell-able product. Fibre vs RC is an interesting decision. I am still thinking of heading down the Fibre path, for aesthetics and also ease of retouching, but am also mindful of the cost. As you have already suggested, unless people know and understand the difference, they really wouldn't care too much what the images are printed on.

    Its Also curious to see your sizing and pricing. I know a few people around Adelaide who have done or been involved in exhibitions. Usually the talk goes along the lines of "don't undersell your prints". While I appreciate that, very often I see exhibitions that don't make any sales, which in reality makes it a total waste of time and when they do, they sell it to their art friends. I think it becomes a bit of a circle jerk after a while (sorry for being crude - I keep on meeting the same people doing similar stuff time and time again and every time I still have to introduce myself.....).


    Now, in general, its time to pull my finger out! I am the first to admit that I am a procrastinator and spend more time and effort planning than executing.

    Reading these responses has slightly changed my tact, especially in regards to sizing, which is cool! I also don't have to narrow down this project to 10 to 20 key images (I.E., if I was doing an exhibition). I can just print what ever tickles me at the time and simple put them into "Stock".

    Cheers and any further feedback would be welcome!
     
  11. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    That's right. It can be a very, very expensive waste of time, really. Remember that apart from out-of-pocket exhibition start-up expenses (often borne by the artist, not the gallery!), galleries want a juicy cut of the sale; your work may be attractively priced but then after a 30% (sometimes as high as 45%) cut, you are left wondering if it was all worth it. Weekend markets, craft shows etc. are the way to go and keep a lid on expenses.

    You may remember ChromaColour out at Kent Town (Wakefield Street). They had an extensive upper floor devoted to their gallery of Ciba. Despite a 25 year relationship, the big-wig directors refused to put any of my work on display adjunct to large panorama works by Lik, Dobré, Duncan and many others. Reason? "Your small, but perfect work is simply not profitable to us." I was printing to 25x35 and occasionally up to 60x100 (at $270 each). Nup. They only wanted to display prints worth, I think more than $1,000. The attitude left a sour taste and we "parted company" a few months before the end of Ilfochrome Classic in 2010.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  12. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    not a bad idea but avoid
    selling too cheap,thathurts the implied value of your work.
     
  13. jacaquarie

    jacaquarie Member

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    Offering my views, do not sell your work cheep!
    Price your work so that the return is fair to you. No one that is your future customer ever wants to purchase a print (or anything) from the artist (craftsman) only to discover that the value has declined. My view is to build the relationship with your future client, then educate your client as to the reasons your photography has value and is priced accordingly.
    When you price too low the customer wonders what is wrong with your work / product.
    When you do not cover your costs, all you are doing is paying for people to display your prints on their walls.
    You may be surprised how great are your included costs. Start keeping track.

    Having got on the soap box, good luck, the world needs more good works out there!

    Aj
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks for your feedback Ralph and AJ.
     
  16. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I attended our fall arts and crafts fair this weekend, and, out of about 300 vendors from around the county, there were a half a dozen photographers. All featured predominately eye-popping color images. The large works were either printed on canvas or on metal. They had a variety of other sizes, all matted. None of the images were framed. The wasn't any what I would consider "fine art". It was all decorative. Each vendor looked like they had only 30-50 images (available in four or five different sizes). It looked like the same images they offered in the spring. Nothing new. I didn't see any money change hands.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  17. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I'd bet that you couldn't tell one photographers work from another's, too. Lots of big canvas prints of Italy?
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    And now we go into "What is Fine art?"!

    In all honesty, what I am seeking to achieve I personally wouldn't call fine art. I am going to produce images of detailed shots of classic cars. The fact that they are shot on film and printed in a darkroom is for my own choice. I personally don't see that this makes them Fine Art either.

    I suppose my quandary is that, if I decide that an exhibition is where I want to go, it would be a total 100% vanity project, which would then incur all the costs, for the images to be stuck up in some gallery or venue, being ignored by everyone except my friends and family, because I'm unknown. I figured by being a bit more targeted and choosing places where the clientele are into cars, I might have a better chance to actually sell something.

    Maybe its time to start another thread asking in General "What has been the most successful method you have found to sell prints?"

    On a side note, I have penciled myself in to have a space at a local Kustom Kulture event in March next year (pending the event going ahead). The good thing about this particular show is that 75% of the images have been shot at the same show over the last 5 or so years. The other thing is I have now put some pressure on myself, with a deadline! I better get printing!
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    A custom car event may attract people who appreciate film and camera technology.
    It wouldn't hurt to differentiate yourself a bit by having a blurb there about how the "images" were "captured" and made into prints.
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Absolutely. These kinds of events and people very much appreciate vintage anything!
     
  21. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Your camera might even be another eyecatcher at such place. Of course in the end it should not detract attention from your photographs. But then you always could pack it away.
     
  22. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I have business cards and brochures at exhibits. The brochures are cheaply produced on a B&W laser printer, but seem to be popular. People at the exhibit can tell that they do not faithfully represent the photographs. They would be many times more expensive on my Epson P800 printer. Anyone hoping to sell in an upscale venue should have either quality brochures or none at all.
     
  23. Ces1um

    Ces1um Subscriber

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    I've never sold a print so I'm not a great one to ask, but my wife did show me a facebook post the other day which pertains to this. The mother posted an add for photos their daughter took with her iphone. They had them printed on canvas and sold them via facebook for $140 each. The photos were not spectacular. Horizons weren't even level. That being said, she sold 7 of them. Maybe facebook might be a market for you?
     
  24. Wallendo

    Wallendo Subscriber

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    I speak primarily from the consumer standpoint. Many people attending a car show or festival event aren't going to bring large amounts of cash. Unless you are at an event where other photographers are selling at fine art rates, you may need to keep costs down enough to promote impulse buying.

    You may want to calculate shipping costs so that potential customers can order later. Carrying around large prints at a festival can be awkward.
     
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    hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks for your reply. Yes, I fully understand your point of view and am setting my expectations accordingly. As per a post early, having something for at least a small amount on the table is not a bad idea. It seems, though, that when ever I say "I'll sell a 5x7 for $5" I seem to get the old "You're underselling and making it hard for the rest of us" replies. For me, $5 5x7's would be treated as a "Loss Leader" - something that I can out and about which could mean potential sales elsewhere.

    Cheers
     
  26. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    $5 for 5x7's? Silver prints?
     
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