We started up an interesting sub-discussion over at the Cash Only topic so I thought I'd go ahead and move it here so we don't crowd out the info about taking cash or credit.

For those of you with smaller crafts or items, how do you make sure that you cover your booth fees?  Does making smaller items that sell cheaper always equal more sales for you? How do you balance putting the time into making these objects, the cost of your time/materials/etc, and making enough sales to cover your expenses?  Are there any tips for specific trades? (ie. making jewelry from wholesale premium materials so you can charge more)

Do you have a formula you start out with to make sure you're not spending too much time making tons of small items? Does time really matter to you, when you're making something you love?

Share the ins and outs here!

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  • I'm in somewhat of a different position, in that I only do original 2D work... no repo's. However, my process of creating a finished painting involves several preliminary sketches, which I'll either ink in, or do watercolor studies which I later will crop and mount. So my inventory includes the higher end pieces, with several smaller versions which I can sell at lower prices. It has worked well for me in the past, because some folks are inclined to buy the whole package; oil painting, watercolor study, and ink sketches of the same images in different stages of development. It appeals to the prospective collector in them. While I can't possibly keep up with the turn over volumes that photography and prints do at the larger shows, I'm primarily entered in 2d art shows in where 3 or 4 sales can put you over the bar.
    • This is a really interesting idea, Leslie! I've not seen anyone offer that at a show.  I own a piece of art with a very similar concept: an original cartoon by the animator Chuck Jones (Bugs Bunny/Wile E Coyote, etc.) that includes both the closing cel and storyboard sketches from key action, and I bought it at first sight. 

      So I think you're on to something!

  • My $10.00 (8x10) and $20 (11x14) unframed prints in a bin have usually covered the expenses, and since things have become slower I now offer "threefurs" at a discount. I usually sell a few originals at the show and thats all gravy. The small stuff has saved me on many an occasion. It seems a lot easier for the customer to hand over a ten or twenty dollar bill so I include taxes for cash. I think price points are very important, between prints and originals.
  • I love them!!! how much do you sell them for? In a set. I assume? May I have your source? Jennifer.Frantz@AmericanaFloorcloths.com

    Jennifer Donald said:
    Another artist friend makes them for me with dye sublimation transfer. Here's a pic of the set. Those are only a sampling of the works I've had made into coasters and I've sold quite a few sets already.

    If you're interested, pm me and I'll get you in contact with my source. :)
    • I am coming into this discussion a little bit late but I have a question for you all...Do you find that your low end "cheapy" items cause you to lose larger sales? I am a pet artist and I do collage work. I don't expect customers to buy my big originals...they are mainly a way to generate commissions....I make smaller reproductions of these pieces (5x7 mounted on wood) and I also make small 2x2 glass magnets...At a show this past weekend, over and over again, people would pick up the $20.00 reproduction to buy and then they would see the $5.00 magnet and put the repro. back....I feel like the magnets are turning out to be a bad thing eventhough they do help me make my booth fee...Am I shooting myself in the foot? If I stop making the magnets, will I lose sales or force customers to buy the $20.00 repro???
      • I would suggest not offering everything in every size/type. If you want to do magnets just pick a few pictures, so if people see the print that doesn't have a magnet they will still buy it.
      • I had the same kind of experience....
        I made 5x7's,,,to get that $20. sale ........but it hurt my 8x10 sales ...which are my bread & butter ...@ $40.
        the 5x7s would make my booth fee ....but lost me a lot more in sales , than what they gained .
        I stopped making them.
        I found people would do the same ......pick up the 8x10,,,and drop it, when they seen the 5x7.
        • Thanks for your input everyone...I think I am still going to offer magnets, but not of my artwork...just quotes, etc. That way they will be forced to buy the higher ticket item (which is only $19.00!!! after all)...I may lose a few sales but then again I hope to make up for them with the higher $$$ item....I will try it out at my next show and see what happens....Thanks!
      • We have tried all different price points. What works for us is to keep a variety. We don't go under $9. But we do craft shows not art. That way it still makes the purchase worth our time. Customers that want your work will find something to buy. Don't go too low and undersell yourself. You can overprice yourself too. Its all part of the dance you do for sales. What we found works doesn't mean will work for you. You have to get a feedback from the customers you talk to.
      • Hard to tell. There maybe some who would buy the $20 piece if the magnet was not available and there maybe others who would not buy at all if the magnet were not available. Is it the price or the functionality that is steering them to the magnet. Is it a gift or for themselves? I have a friend who collects magnets so I always look to buy her a unique artsy one.
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